“Prairie Raiders”

November 12, 2008

After a two minute history lesson that could be titled “Horses Of The West,” this 1949 film starts with Steve and Bronc Masters in the saddle, over looking a herd.  This footage will be recycled in 1951’s “Cyclone Fury”, but by then the filmmakers will have forgotten Bronc’s name, and he will be called “Brock Masters” through out the film.

Back in Twin Forks, we discover that Steve Boldon is a government agent; he has just granted a lease on land to Bronc Master.  Problem is, Bad Guy Henley has his own lease, but his is forged.

Once again, there is no reason for Steve to adopt the Durango Kid persona.  Durango investigates the land rights.  He cautions both sides not to do anything rash until he’s sorted things out.  C’mon – you don’t need a black mask to do that.

In fact, this is exactly what Steve is doing.

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Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Smiley is one of Bronc’s men.  He doesn’t know Steve, but he respects his fighting ability.  “We don’t want to be swapping lead with this Jasper.”  He has heard of the Durango Kid, he recognizes him immediately when he comes riding into the middle of things.

So does Bronc: “I never thought I’d meet up with him, but it’s plumb comforting to know he’s on my side.”

The time period is a little easier to pin-down in this one: there is talk of a war going on, and there is a phone at the county seat.  I’m guessing this would be 1898, and the war would be the Spanish American war.

As usual, no gal for Steve.  In fact, he’s especially emasculated in this film — we see him feebly trying to reach his superiors by telegraph, waiting five hours for a phone call, having his authority ignored by good and bad guys alike.

One extremely strange moment: When the bad guys stampede the horses, we cut from Durango shooting it out with them to Steve riding innocently through town when suddenly the stampede is upon him.  What are we to make of this?  Were the filmmakers actually trying to fool us?  Or was Steve play-acting to an empty street?

Another odd moment regarding the cosmology of The Durango Kid: Bronc wonders out loud how he can find Durango.  Steve: “They’ve been looking for his hide-out for years.”  They have?  Who is they?  And, since DK travels from town to town, what exactly is he doing with a hide-out?

There is a rare, if obscure, mention of an earlier adventure.  Smiley is bragging about a new invention, and a gal makes reference to his “interlocking self-locking jail cell” which he locked himself in.

This film features the scene we’ve all been waiting for: Durango comes face to face with the Secretary of the Interior himself!

Film ends with a wedding.  Steve catches the bouquet.  Blushing, he gives it to Smiley.  (You can’t make this stuff up.)

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Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Puzzle this line, my friends.  Smiley to his horse: “You old alligator bait, the next time you hang me in a tree, you wait ’til Christmas, you hear?”

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