Other Cowboy Stars – Buck Jones in “Lazybones”

June 26, 2009

As part of my ongoing attempt to find a place for Charles Starrett in the history of B-Western stars, I have watched my third Buck Jones film.

“Lazybones” is a product of William Fox’s decision to bring the preeminent German filmmakers to Hollywood in the early twenties.  Frank Borzage, famous for “Seventh Heaven”, “Street Angel” and later “Farewell To Arms”, directs.  Like these films, it is beautifully lit and framed with a tremendous sense of structure.   It’s also as sentimental as all get out.

lazybonesBuck plays Steve Tuttle, “slow as molasses in wintertime”, a good-fer-nothing who adopts a little girl and becomes a man.

It’s a very moving piece and, in another context, I would have a lot to say about this film.

Within the context of this blog, Buck Jones at 34 is a very different actor than Charles Starrett.

First off, he’s incredibly physical.  In “Just Pals”, 1920, he is casually climbing ropes with one hand and jumping over fences in a single hop — a little more showy than in this film.  But his physicality is present in every scene in “Lazybones”.

Also, Buck is given a chance to do many things that Charles never did: like show vulnerability,  cry, age 20 years in a picture, and play a father (of sorts.)  Buck’s wide-eyed joy for life reminds me a bit of Charles in “Return of Casey Jones” and “Lady And Gent”.

I don’t feel like I’ve seen Buck J. in his prime, as a Western star.  “Just Pals” is another sentimental small town drama and “Arizona Bound” (1941) is towards the end of his career where he’s clearly struggling through the horse stunts.


One Response to “Other Cowboy Stars – Buck Jones in “Lazybones””

  1. Mike Newton said

    Buck Jones began in the Twenties at Fox as a back-up to Tom Mix if the star got too big for his britches. Jones’ treatment of the Western hero was a little more realistic and less showman than Mix. In the Thirties, he was a major Western star at Universal with fan clubs here and in England. In addition to his regular features, he made about four or five serials, one a year at Universal. When the singing western came in, he left films to go on tour with his Wild West show. If you are looking for Buck in his prime, I would check out his films from 1932-34. He also made some good Columbia westerns in the Thirties, one with John Wayne.

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