ImageImageBuck Jones starred in 10 films in 1937 and he directed three.  Of the 160-odd films he appeared in during his career, these were the only films he directed.

For a guy who was directed by Frank Borzage and John Ford, his film-making style is much more Elmer Clifton.   The story is pure Poverty Row and the characters more than familiar.  He does manage some nice framing.

ImageImageAnd some arresting imagery.

Image

ImageWith the budget and the schedule Buck was given, these are real accomplishments.  However, he never directed again.

As part of my ongoing attempt to find a place for Charles Starrett in the history of B-Western stars, I have watched my third Buck Jones film.

“Lazybones” is a product of William Fox’s decision to bring the preeminent German filmmakers to Hollywood in the early twenties.  Frank Borzage, famous for “Seventh Heaven”, “Street Angel” and later “Farewell To Arms”, directs.  Like these films, it is beautifully lit and framed with a tremendous sense of structure.   It’s also as sentimental as all get out.

lazybonesBuck plays Steve Tuttle, “slow as molasses in wintertime”, a good-fer-nothing who adopts a little girl and becomes a man.

It’s a very moving piece and, in another context, I would have a lot to say about this film.

Within the context of this blog, Buck Jones at 34 is a very different actor than Charles Starrett.

First off, he’s incredibly physical.  In “Just Pals”, 1920, he is casually climbing ropes with one hand and jumping over fences in a single hop — a little more showy than in this film.  But his physicality is present in every scene in “Lazybones”.

Also, Buck is given a chance to do many things that Charles never did: like show vulnerability,  cry, age 20 years in a picture, and play a father (of sorts.)  Buck’s wide-eyed joy for life reminds me a bit of Charles in “Return of Casey Jones” and “Lady And Gent”.

I don’t feel like I’ve seen Buck J. in his prime, as a Western star.  “Just Pals” is another sentimental small town drama and “Arizona Bound” (1941) is towards the end of his career where he’s clearly struggling through the horse stunts.