“The Cowboy Star”

April 9, 2008

We’re going way back to 1936 for this one. Pre-Durango, fer sure.

A pretty high concept here for a Starrett vehicle. Charley plays Spencer Yorke who is a big movie star in cowboy pictures. We meet him riding a bucking bronco, then pull back to reveal that it’s a just an effect and the stunt man is brought in to do the real riding.

His pre-movie star friend Buckshot shows up and asks him what a bed is and who sleeps in it: “I do!” shouts an embarrassed Spencer. He’s tired of the fancy clothes and the Asian houseboy who takes off his shoes and puts cream on his face. During a dinner party, he tells his producer that he is giving up movies and going back to being a cowboy.

Spencer and Charley find a small town and buy a house. There is a weird bit where Iris Meredith (as the local real estate lady, Mary) thinks, naturally, that Spencer is buying the house. Then Spencer tells her that Buckshot is the one with all the money, and he’s buying the house (part of the ruse to keep Spencer’s identity a secret.) Somehow this information doesn’t change her relationship with Spencer. Or Buckshot. At all.

Some gangsters hole up in Ghost Town and Spencer is a real cowboy hero and saves the day.

Courtesy of Les Adams

Funny bits: Mary finds out that Spencer is really a movie star, and pretends to have a hurt foot so that Charley will carry her to her horse. When they get there, she hops right on up on the horse. He says “What was that?” She says, “Acting.” He pulls her into his arms, pre-smooch and she says “What’s this?” He says, “Acting!” Oh boy…

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Another bit demonstrates what separates these films from the A-pictures — it’s the little things: Little Jimmy keeps wanting to go to “Ghost Town”. He tells his friend in secret that he’s going off to “Ghost Town.” His father can’t find him and tells a guy “I think he’s gone off to Ghost Town” and writes a note to Mary “Gone to look for Jimmy at Ghost Town.” Mary reads the letter (and we see it) and says “Jimmy’s gone off to Ghost City.” Charley takes it and reads it and says “What’s this fascination with Ghost City?”

Courtesy of Les Adams

Spencer decides to go back to making movies for kids like Little Jimmy. He asks Mary if she might like Hollywood and she says “I think I’ll love it!”

Irish Meredith would do 19 more films with Starrett.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures