“Lightning Guns”

December 21, 2016

After a long time, I look at a “new” Charles Starrett film and it is called…

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I have watched 50 of the 59 Durango Kid films that Charles Starrett made for Columbia Pictures between 1945 – 1952.  “Lightning Guns” was the last film made in 1950. Durango will make 15 more films in the next two years, then hang up his six-shooters forever.

There’s a lot that is familiar to me in this film, but, happily, it does not rely heavily on repurposed footage from previous Durango Kid films.  Fred Sears is back as director.  As my readers, and any astute fan of these films, knows Mr. Sears played many bad guys in earlier Durango Kid films (the mastermind type, not the henchman type) before moving behind the lens.

Familiar.  Shot in Corriganville.  The opening VO is the usual variation on “in the old west there were bad men but some good ones, one of them was the Durango Kid” cue the black figure atop the rising white horse.  And, as always, Charles Starrett’s character is named “Steve.”  This time, it’s “Steve Brandon.”

Also.   Jock Mahoney plays double duty as Starrett’s stunt man and the desirable male lead — this time as the sheriff.  He mostly gets beat up and then shot in this one.

Also. Smiley Burnette is in this.  He *groan* plays a *get this* bathtub salesman.  Oh, the comedy gold from “The West’s #1 Comic,” as Columbia liked to bill him.

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Also familiar.  Steve adopting the Durango Kid persona and disguise serves absolutely no purpose in the narrative.  Again, everything that Durango does could have been accomplished by Steve.  In many cases, Steve could have done a better job, since he had already gained the trust of all of the principles.

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There’s a feud and a fight over water rights and bank robberies and arrests.  Meanwhile, two old pals (I guess?) (it changes every picture) are drinking coffee (Steve) and milk (the unfunny guy in the right half of the frame.)

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I really liked that the final fights were mainly Charles and not stunt double Jock.  And he saves the day.  As Steve!

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Cool!

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POSTSCRIPT:

Jock is listed as Jock O’Mahoney.  I’ve never seen that before.

AND:

This is the coolest image of Smiley I have ever come across.

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