October 31, 2010
October 29, 2010
Although the Pony Express only operated for 18 months, it captured the imagination of the nation for many years. It isn’t difficult to summon some pity, then, for the filmmakers who set out to portray the exciting gallantry of this high-paced life of nearly perpetual motion. Especially when they are handicapped by the necessity of anchoring the story in the standard standing western city sets.
The task here falls to screenwriter Norman Hall, a long-time serial writer, who later penned a number of the last Durango Kid films – Blazing The Pecos Trail, Whirlwind Raiders, and Last Days of Boot Hill. The plot he comes up with is heavy on intrigue and light on hard gallops and lightening fast horse changes.
Senator Lassiter is visiting St. Louis at the onset of the Civil War. His plan is to disband the Union-friendly troops in Sacramento so that his men in California can take the state for the Confederacy. How? By sending forged orders through the pony express.
I understand this early film (1939) is atypical of a Roy Rogers vehicle cuz he doesn’t sing much. It is however the first RR film I have seen. Here are my observations on this soon-to-be legend. Roy has a drawl, he’s good at the fast dismount, is invited to dinner but “don’t have clothes for that sort of thing”, doesn’t smoke, uses a lasso, has a sidekick in a battered hat (eerily familiar), wears his own hat tight on his head ALWAYS, and has a nice quirky smile.
About those songs. Song #1: sung to a gal on a couch, fireside. “Old Kentucky Home.” Song #2: pressed into singing by the gal at the big ball. “Rusty Spurs.”
An interesting note. Roy’s sidekick, played by Raymond Hatton, sweetens a trade by throwing in one of Trigger’s horse shoes. Apparently, Trigger is a star in the Old West.
Fittingly, it is Trigger who saves the day here, taking the important vouchers to St. Louis at high speed. Really, Roy only gets an Assist on this one.
Unlike Charles Starrett, Roy is definitely a star in the singing cowboy mold of Gene Autry. He does throw a good movie punch, however.
October 24, 2010
This logo keeps popping up in the ads between the illustrations in Durango Kid comics books.
I just don’t get this one at all. Not only did Charles Starrett never appear in a color film, but his whole bit is black and white. When he’s The Durango Kid, everything is black — his hat, his shirt, his pants, his mask — everything except for Raider, his white horse. When he’s Steve Something, he wears the white hat and rides Bullet, the black horse.
The whole thing about Durango/Steve is the black/white contrast.
“Colorful” suggests someone with a lot of flair or a sense of fun. I can think of a lot more “colorful” western stars than Starrett. Tom Mix is more colorful. Hoot Gibson is more colorful. Most every cowboy star but Ken Maynard is more colorful in this way.
I know that colorful is sometimes a euphemism for flamboyant. This doesn’t apply to the Charles Starret we see on screen, and his off-screen life seems pretty square-jawed as well.
So, regrettably, I must award the Sloganeers behind this logo a big FAIL!