Other Cowboy Stars – Bill Cody in “The Montana Kid”

December 19, 2010

I had just finished William Wyler’s epic “The Big Country” when I slid “The Montana Kid” into the DVD player.  Needless to say, it’s a much smaller film.

Some drunk’s kid is coming home by the stagecoach.  Drunkie gets swindled out of the deed to his land and ends up dead.  Bill (played by Bill Cody) sorta adopts the kid and they become a (surrogate) father/son bank robbery team.  In the end, they get the land back.

Here’s his disguise.  Look like anyone you know?

Bill Cody smiles in the face of most tragedies.  He laughs a lot.  Even when he’s being tough, he often pauses to break the tension with a laugh and smile.  He sure busts himself up!

Like most cowboy stars, Bill Cody mainly plays characters with his real-life first name.  This film gave me a new thought about what we like to call around here “The Mystery Of Steve.”  Namely, why is it that Charles Starrett is almost always named “Steve” in his films?  Different last name, but nearly always the same first: Steve.

My new theory is that Charles was trying to follow the tradition of cowboy stars going by the same name in every picture.  However, he (or his handlers) didn’t think that “Charles” was tough enough? rough enough? heroic enough?  Ergo, they went with “Steve” and stuck with it.  This theory, of course, doesn’t explain the occasional “Jeff” or “Kip.”

Bill Cody worked with kids a lot.  Here his freckle-faced co-star is Andy Shuford, who retired from the screen two years later at the age of fifteen.  Cody would make four films with his own son, Bill Cody Jr.


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