October 30, 2013
This is a “modern day Western,” by which I mean that it is set in the year that it was made, 1936. A rich cattleman and his daughter are in the big city on business and they catch Tim Barton’s (McCoy) wild west nightclub act.
The gal falls for Tim, especially after he stops some hoods robbing Dad. He signs on to help with some trouble back home in Texas but ends up masquerading as Single-Shot Smith, a hired gun for Dad’s rival.
Lots of confusion but Tim’s heart is in the right place. He has successfully infiltrated the enemy! However, there’s a snake the grass and his name is Slim (Dick Curtis).
Some action-oriented shenanigans culminate in a unique showdown setting. An auction.
How is the film? Well, Tim’s cool but he’s always cool. But he’s cool, so that’s that.
July 16, 2009
The Autry Museum of the American West has a wing where the history of the B-Western is chronicled. A short film that plays on a monitor surrounded by posters and props pays tribute to the 5 most influential figures of the B-Western: Tom Mix, Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy and Hoot Gibson. (This is the second film. The first features Gilbert Anderson and William S. Hart.)
This is their list. Personally, I’d leave off Hoot, but that’s me. I would also argue that Charlies is either number 6, or he’s number 1 of the next list. When he debuted as a cowboy star in 1936, Charles was already a throw-back to a more traditional B-Western star, the kind of star embodied by the Autry 5 in their hey-day. Because, even by 1936, the 5 were doing new, weird stuff.
Tim McCoy is flying planes for the DOJ and investigating death rays in ’36’s “Ghost Patrol.” I’ve written about these strange Western/Sci-Fi hybrids before (and better — check out my thoughts on Tom Mix in “The Miracle Rider” or Gene Autry in “Phantom Empire”.)
I like Tim McCoy. He’s cool in a steely-eyed sorta way. He has a casual stiffness and a pretty droll sense of humor.
The film is a bore. It’s terribly slow-paced, and not just because of McCoy’s much-ballyhooed authenticity. Dick Curtis, for example, takes nearly three minutes to set up a ham radio. And we get to watch every second.
Charles replaced Tim McCoy at Columbia. His costume is an echo of Tim’s — white hat and scarf, black shirt.
I’m afraid that “Ghost Patrol” has not inspired me to a very long entry here. So I will sign off, and say a little prayer that some of Charles’ lost titles show up soon, so that this site doesn’t get too boring.
September 14, 2008
Buck Jones (50 but looking 70) plays Marshal Buck Roberts. Tim McCoy (also an older-looking 50) plays Marshal Tim McCall. Raymond Hatton (54) plays Marshal Sandy Hopkins. These old coots are the Rough Riders.
The Rough Riders made 8 films for Monogram Pictures between 1941 and 1942. “Arizona Bound” is the first one. They were all shot near Newhall, William S. Hart’s chosen place of retirement, at the Monograph Ranch.
Buck is heavy set, but he still has most of his hair. He does his own stunts, which would seem impressive except that he looks exactly like what he is, an old man struggling in the saddle.
Tim has aged a little better. He too has put on a few pounds. That flashing anger in his eyes is still present, and still pretty intense. He also still darn quick with the draw.
Raymond Hatton is the comic relief, and does a nice job for an old man.
In “Arizona Bound”, even the supporting cast is on the older side.
Charles was starting to look pretty long in the tooth when he quit acting in 1952, but he was still trim and athletic. I know that his sight left him in later years, I don’t know if that was a factor in his retirement as well.
Buck Jones died the next year in the tragic Coconut Grove fire in Boston. Tim McCoy lived to the ripe old age of 87. Raymond Hatton left us in 1971 at the age of 84.
August 27, 2008
In 1935, Tim McCoy left Columbia Pictures to make westerns for Puritan films. Columbia needed a new cowboy star, and Charles Starrett got the job.
The similarities end there. Tim McCoy is short, sort of pudgy, with a roundish face. He rides his horse very erect. He talks to his horse alot – explaining plot points and his motivation. He rolls his own smokes and talks in a slow and lazy sort of way, with an “authentic” drawl. What must have been a real draw for him was the fact that he has this incredible intensity when he’s angry – great eyes.
Tim McCoy was the real deal, a cowboy from Wyoming, with a great past and a lot of schemes. Here is a good concise history of his life.
In “Texas Cyclone”, 1932, Texas Grant rides into Stampede, Arizona. He is mistaken by everyone as Jim Rawlings, missing for over 5 years. Texas decides to stick around and take this identity, cleaning up the town and settling Jim Rawlings’ old scores. So, like Charley often does, Tim has a double identity in this film.
(Interestingly, in most films Tim McCoy is named “Tim” Something.)
Other differences between a Tim McCoy film and a Charles Starrett film: lots of people and background action. Also, they speed up the action – fights and riding – alot, I mean, real fast. There are some featured horse jumps – like over a wagon – I’ve never seen anything like that in a CS flick.
Tim has a nice supporting cast here: Walter Brennan (was he ever young?) and a decidedly young John Wayne as his sidekick, Steve.
So this is Charley’s cinema-father. I like.