“Terror Trail”

July 5, 2008

Sounds chiling, doesn’t it? “Terror Trail!” Well, it’s no more a horror film than “Pardon My Gun” is a comedy. It’s the same old Charley western. I wonder if there was a hit horror-hybrid in 1946 which inspired the title? Some sort of slasher/western?

Neat dialogue in the opening. There’s a stage coach robbery and Durango shows up.

Bandit: “The Durango Kid! Let’s get out of here!”

Female Passenger: “The Durango Kid? Who is he?”

Driver: “They call him an outlaw, maam, but he never misses a chance to help out the underdog.”

Young passenger: “He sure knows how to handle a gun!”

Steve Haverly is back in Red Butte after two years to sell his Circle H Ranch. Some day, I need to put together a list of the reasons that Steve is in town in the different pictures. This is an early film in the series (16th) before Steve started working for various government agencies. And before the writers stopped creating reasons at all.

Smiley knows Steve right from the start. “Steve Haverly! You rootin’ tootin’ old horn toad, why I thought you’d left Wyoming for good!”

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

There’s a fun character of a 19-year-old city punk (from Louieville) who thinks he can be a real cowboy tough. He does all kinds of mean stuff like burn Smiley with a cigarette (I kind of like him for that), call Smiley “Fatso” (my kind of guy), give Smiley a hot foot (keep going!) and shoot at Smiley. I love this kid!

Plot involves a town on the brink of a range war between the cattlemen and the sheepherders. There’s a big secret about who owns the sheep for some reasons. Durango’s job: solve the mystery and stop the war.

Durango is extra tricky in this one – propping his hat in some bushes for bad guys to shoot at, knocking out a guard and taking his clothes to gather information, the old rope-trick that yanks bad guys from their horses…

In closing, I must mention this. There has been some poor acting in these films. There has been some barely competent acting. But the henchmen in this one take acting to a new low — they are terrible. Laughably wooden reads on their dialogue. Missing their holsters with their guns like 3 times in one scene.

I miss Dick Curtis!

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures