June 5, 2008
“Old Wyoming Trail” was made in 1937. It’s old. It’s so old that Charley’s name is Bob!
And Charley Sings!
Or at least he moves his mouth to the music along with a whole bunch of other guys.
In any telling of the history of Western Swing, some of the musical stars featured in Starrett’s films were to be counted among some of the best. Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, T.J. “Red” Arnall and His Western Aces, and Mr. Spade Cooley, host of the long-running “Hoffman Hayride” and whose historic run at the Venice Pier Ballroom brought him the title of “The King of Western Swing.” In this film, it’s the Sons of the Pioneers, who, with Roy Rogers, were some of the first Singing Cowboys.
In an 1984 interview, Starrett makes the distinction between Action Cowboys and Singing Cowboys. He puts himself in the former group. Having “heard” him sing, I think he makes a good point.
Bob and Sandy are riding to the Halliday Ranch to buy some cattle, and end up in the middle of a hornet’s nest of corruption and intrigue. The villians (Guy Usher and Dick Curtis) are really hateful, and it’s fun seeing Charley beat them up.
Charles wears one of those old school cowboy hats, really tall with a wide brim. He’s pretty tough though, grabbing guys by the neck and stuff. He slugs so many guys that the bad guy Slade even calls him “that puncher.”
And, wonder of wonders, he gets the girl!