“Prairie Roundup”

July 25, 2008

Very strange opening credit sequence — different/grander music, different font and lay-out on the credits. And a different painted background. It’s not the traditional lone yucca or the city lights in the valley. It features a campfire and three brands (w, o, x) leaning against a rock.

Same old crew though. Comrade Borofsky cut it, Colbert produced and our old friend, and reoccurring bad guy, Fred Sears directs.

However, differences abound in this film. The opening shot is a rare overhead view of the western street (I’ve never seen an elevated camera shot in any of these). Charely rides into town. “I’m looking for a friend of mine, Smiley Burnette.”

Another rarity, a well-executed and long tracking shot through a crowded bar. Fake Durango robs the place. Charley kills Fake Durango. Smiley says, “Steve! Hey, I thought you were the Durango Kid!” “Forget it, Smiley.”

Steve Carson “used to be a Captain of the Texas Rangers before they disabled them,” shouts Smiley. “You remember him, Steve Carson!”

Oh yeah, that Steve Carson.

They arrest Steve for Durango’s murder (is that a trip or what?) and find him guilty and sentence him to hang! Smiley pleads, “all you got to do is tell them that you’re…” But Steve will only woodenly shake his head.

The guys behind the frame-up are from down in Santa Fe, so Steve escapes and heads down there to clear his name.

He dresses up as Durango first and surprises the Sheriff. “Another Durango!”

Smiley apparently was a Texas Ranger as well. He’s also a bad ass in this!

A cowhand is messing with him, pushing him around and says, “Maybe there’s something you don’t like about me?”

Usually, at this point, Smiley would feebly attempt to pull a gun and it would fall apart, or his pants would fall down and he’d whimper. Instead…

“Yeah, your face. If I had a face like that I’d nail a board over it!”

The guy swings. Smiley moves his head. “I’m over here.”

Another swing. Another miss.

“You don’t hit nothing, do you?” Then Smiley kicks his ass. “Fun, ain’t it!”

Steve is surprised. “I never knew you could fight like that.” “I was never that mad before.”

A woman hires Steve as Trail Boss on a cattle drive because “Dad and Steve’s father were old friends.”

Steve has a father?!

More differences: close-ups, lots of moving cameras, even a dutch angle of horses jumping over the camera and kicking dust into the lens. Someone decided to put a little effort into this one. Why this film? Why 1951? Beats me.

Music is by the Sunshine Boys, who play cowhands on the cattle drive as well.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

I wonder where the “Santa Fe” set is — I’ve seen it before as a “Mexican city” in “Bandits of El Dorado”.

At one point, the bad guy hires Durango to kill Steve. Now it’s getting really trippy! Like, wheels within wheels. My head is spinning….

Charles is looking old in this one.

In the end, Steve and Smiley sit by a fire. Smiley wants to “stop all this traipsing around the country getting in trouble.”

Steve says, “You’ll never be happy in one place.”

And I’ll never be happy when Smiley is in the picture.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures