May 19, 2008
“Durango not real. Him Great Spirit of Wind, ride on devil horse, kill all enemies.”
Words uttered by Little Johnny, and yes, he’s Native American.
It’s 1951, folks, and welcome to Charles Starrett’s 159th film.
We start with a somewhat rare narration (I count four so far). Even more rare is that the narrator is Steve Reynolds, who is (you guessed it!) The Durango Kid hisself.
“In the ’80’s I was employed by the government to help obtain remounts for the Army.”
So too, apparently, is Smiley. In an early scene, his hopes are dashed of being a mustang buster for the Army. He has to eat his hat after he can’t bust Red Devil. Charley can! I wish this scene were earlier in the series — it would make a great origin story for Smiley’s battered old hat.
I guess it was inevitable that Smiley would end up in a Haunted House, since he’s exhausted every other tired comic convention. He opens a “Coffin Store” and encounters a lot of cobwebs and even a singing skeleton.
Clayton Moore is back with one of my favorite lines yet from this series. “Let’s vamoose Doc, Burnette is making me sick!”
Me too, Kemo Sabe!
Of note: this is Clayton Moore’s first film after his Lone Ranger stint originally ended. He made a few more films, including, notably, Radar Men from the Moon, before the producers relented and brought him back (at a higher salary) as that other masked man.
The plot involves solving the murder of Brock Masters, delivering wild horses to the Army, and stopping Grat Hanlon (Moore) from muscling in on the action.
At nearly 50, Charley is starting to show his age a bit. But he still walks very erect and looks trim in both his white and black ensembles. He may not do the stunt where Durango jumps over two horses and into the saddle of Radar (amazing!), but he throws a mean punch and carries a big man on his back. And he even makes laughing at Smiley’s mugging look easy.
Another notable guest star is Mr. Merle Travis, who had a distinguished career as a Country Western singer and songwriter, with enduring hits such as “Sixteen Tons” and “Dark as a Dungeon.” Here he is performing with the Bronco Busters, who also appeared with him in Charley’s 1946 “Roaring Rangers”.
Is it just me or does the name “Brock Masters” sound like someone’s porno pseudonym?