“Lawless Empire”

April 13, 2008

Oh Cannonball!

Dub Taylor appeared in the role of “Cannonball” in fifty-three films between 1939 and 1949. Fifteen of those appearances were as comic relief in Charley’s films.

In 1945’s “Lawless Empire”, Cannonball is enough of a trusted sidekick that he is “sent ahead” by Steve Ranson (aka the Durango Kid) to gather information by getting a job mopping up at the local saloon.

And mopping up provides a lot of comic material. Let your mind drift and you might be able to picture the possibilities: bad guys can slip on the wet floor, Cannonball himself can slip on the wet floor, the bucket can be set too close to a closed door – when it opens, you’ve got a mess! Oh Cannonball!

And as if that’s not enough, there’s also a loose board in the floorboards outside the Sheriff’s office: something like that just might slap Cannonball in the butt everytime he enters the office!

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Plot: Some homesteaders are being evicted at gun-point and The Durango Kid shows up just in time to save Tex Harding (here playing the character “Reverend Tex Harding”). Doc Weston is a bad guy and runs the town. Steve tricks him into offering him the job of Marshall.

Cool bit where Doc shows him his trophy wall in the saloon. It’s got all the gunbelts of all the former Marshall (which he has had killed.) He tells Steve “take your pick.” Steve takes the one with J.R. initials.

Turns out J. Ranson was his brother, and the former Marshall. That’s why Steve’s in town, to avenge his death. He does his double-duty Durango Kid thing and beats them all!

Some fun along the way as Charley pretends to be a really ineffective Marshall; slow to get moving and quick to tell people his plans.

Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys do the singing.