May 10, 2008
— image courtesy of the antique cowboy
Finally, the site of Charley’s transformations is revealed. Batman has the Batcave, Superman has his Fortress of Solitude (or in a pinch, a phone booth) and the Durango Kid has a make-shift lean-to tent in the forest.
It’s not much, but he makes it work.
In this 1948 addition to the DK saga, Charley is Steve Lanning, who Smiley describes as a “one man police force.” He’s an ex-Texas Ranger. He’s wanted for Bank Robbery, a ruse he uses to fool his enemies into trusting him. If you ask me, they should have stuck with this back-story for Steve (and with the name Lanning, it kinda suits him.)
We also learn that (for this picture at least) “You can trust Smiley. He’s an old Ranger Cook.”
Fred Sears (who acted in 19 of Charley’s films, and later directed 13) plays Tracy Beaumont, who has the crooked Texas State Police in his pocket. Charley and the good folk in town are working clandestinely to restore the recently disbanded Texas Rangers.
There’s a creepy bit where the Kid shows up at a secret meeting of these rebels and tells them his plan to defeat the Police. Someone asks the disguised man in his black mask, “Who are you?”
“If you’re smart, you won’t try and find out.”
“Birth of a Nation” anyone?
There’s also a Mini-Durango in this one. He’s little Tommy and he dresses like the Kid (black shirt, black hat, even a mini-Bullet named Dusty), and “helps out” by keeping an eye on Smiley. The actor’s name is Don Reynolds, but he is billed as “Little Brown Jug.” That’s his stage name. Later he became Don “Brown Jug” Reynolds, and became a horse wrangler who worked on all three “Lord Of The Rings” films.
Funny bit: Steve employs a really elaborate and stupid distraction. He creates a catapult out of a low hanging branch and some rope which tosses a rock to distract the enemy, so he can sneak up behind them. Shoot ’em in the back next time, Steve!
And, at last, a primary source of information on the Kid. In the film, someone holds up the Wanted Poster for Steve Lanning. It reads, in part:
Height 6 ft. 1 inch, Weight 190 lbs.
Dark Hair, Slender Build
Music by Doye O’Dell and The Radio Rangers, who get extra credit for doing a half-way decent job of feigning enjoyment with Smiley’s lame antics (fixing that durn broken leg on the old widow so-and-so’s chair.)