Other Cowboy Stars – Tim McCoy in “Ghost Patrol”
July 16, 2009
The Autry Museum of the American West has a wing where the history of the B-Western is chronicled. A short film that plays on a monitor surrounded by posters and props pays tribute to the 5 most influential figures of the B-Western: Tom Mix, Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy and Hoot Gibson. (This is the second film. The first features Gilbert Anderson and William S. Hart.)
This is their list. Personally, I’d leave off Hoot, but that’s me. I would also argue that Charlies is either number 6, or he’s number 1 of the next list. When he debuted as a cowboy star in 1936, Charles was already a throw-back to a more traditional B-Western star, the kind of star embodied by the Autry 5 in their hey-day. Because, even by 1936, the 5 were doing new, weird stuff.
Tim McCoy is flying planes for the DOJ and investigating death rays in ’36’s “Ghost Patrol.” I’ve written about these strange Western/Sci-Fi hybrids before (and better — check out my thoughts on Tom Mix in “The Miracle Rider” or Gene Autry in “Phantom Empire”.)
I like Tim McCoy. He’s cool in a steely-eyed sorta way. He has a casual stiffness and a pretty droll sense of humor.
The film is a bore. It’s terribly slow-paced, and not just because of McCoy’s much-ballyhooed authenticity. Dick Curtis, for example, takes nearly three minutes to set up a ham radio. And we get to watch every second.
Charles replaced Tim McCoy at Columbia. His costume is an echo of Tim’s — white hat and scarf, black shirt.
I’m afraid that “Ghost Patrol” has not inspired me to a very long entry here. So I will sign off, and say a little prayer that some of Charles’ lost titles show up soon, so that this site doesn’t get too boring.