April 21, 2008
At this point in my study, a number of questions have emerged, riddles I can’t yet solve. I will continue to search for the answers, but I thought I would take a moment now to name them.
Note: I understand the impulse to merely blame these mysteries on the inattention of filmmakers working on a budget. You know, “these were B-pictures, what do you expect?” And yes, I will be exploring in future entries the attitude of the studio and their seeming indifference to the content/quality of these films.
But, in the name of Narrative, let us contemplate these questions from the vantage point that there is an answer, somewhere, within the body of the work.
First question, quite simply, is this: Who is the Durango Kid? I mean, who is this guy and why does he do what he does? Is he a Texas Ranger who moonlights as a masked avenger (“Return of the Durango Kid”)? Does he work for the Treasury Department (“Bonanza Town”)? Or is he a wandering hero who roams from town to town on his own dime, righting the wrongs that he encounters (in almost every other film I’ve seen)? If the latter, then what is his motivation? What is driving him?
Second question: Who is “Steve”? He seems to have a different job (and a different sur-name) nearly every picture. Superman is always Clark Kent. Batman is always Bruce Wayne. The Durango Kid is a different Steve in every film.
Third question: What is his relationship with his side-kick? With Cannonball, and then with Smiley, this relationship seems to change from film to film. In one film, he will not know the guy, and meet him when he comes to town. In the next, this guy is more like a partner, someone he “sends ahead” to gather information.
A couple other loose ends that keep nagging me:
Where does he hide the white horse?
Why does he always befriend a handsome male stranger?
Why doesn’t he ever get the girl?
Also, something I may revisit soon, is this: The donning of the double identity often contributes nothing to the success of Steve’s mission. He could just have easily accomplished all he does without posing as the Durango Kid. So, I ask, is the Durango Kid identity a benefit, or is it merely a compulsion?
Or is it a curse?