A Special Breed

August 31, 2009

The Autry National Center of the American West (aka, the Autry Museum) has a series of short films  playing on monitors interspersed among the exhibits.   These presentations examine the history of B-Westerns.  I’ve written about these films before.

Around the corner from the Charles Starrett exhibit there plays a tribute to the stunt men of the B-Western.  It begins with a quick-paced montage of movie stunts (a horse and rider diving off a cliff, a wagon rolling down a hill, etc) and culminates with a long shot of a cowboy maneuvering along a buckboard on a “speeding” wagon, clearly on a soundstage.  Recognize someone?

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“…a special breed of people who make movie magic appear to be real.”

I’ll agree with the “special” part, but, c’mon, Smiley as a stuntman?  The guy can barely pull off a convincing pratfall.

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Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

F.O.R. = Friend of Raider.

Casque & Gauntlet

August 23, 2009


His senior year at Dartmouth, Charles Starrett became a member of the secret society, Casque & Gauntlet.

The order was founded in 1887, inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and Sir Thomas Malory’s Mort D’arthur.  It is modeled on the knights of the round table, and members take the names of specific knights from the Arthurian legend.  The president is called “King Arthur” for the length of his reign, and the vice president is “Merlin,” and so forth.

One has to wonder about Charles’ pledge name.  Was he the romantic and conflicted Lancelot?  Or the chaste Galahad?  The hothead Lucan?

Regardless, the Knights’ code of chivalry, as described by Malory, could be that of the Durango Kid himself.

  • To never do outrage nor murder
  • Always to flee treason
  • To by no means be cruel but to give mercy unto him who asks for mercy
  • To always do ladies, gentlewomen and widows succor
  • To never force ladies, gentlewomen or widows
  • Not to take up battles in wrongful quarrels for love or worldly goods

Durango v. Pirates

August 5, 2009

DK vs PiratesAhoy @smileydrowned