Saturday, July 04, 2009


This is the first in a series of over 50 B-westerns made by Columbia with Charles Starrett as the title character, a cowboy Robin Hood-figure, a bit like the Lone Ranger, who wears a scarf over his face to hide his identity. Here, Bill Lowry (Starrett) comes home to the family ranch where trouble is brewing. His father (Frank LaRue), a landowner, is caught in the middle of a conflict between homesteaders trying to build on land the government has given them and a group of cattlemen who resent the newcomers and are trying to drive them away as the deadline for making improvements looms. LaRue has offered help to the struggling homesteaders, called "nesters" by the ranchers, and is shot in the back and killed for his troubles. A young woman whose family's house was burned down (Luana Walters) wishes that the fabled Durango Kid would ride by and help out; as it happens, Starrett is the Kid, and sure enough, he arrives and, with some help from his father's ranch hands (played by the singing Sons of the Pioneers), hunts down the baddies and helps Walters' family get money to rebuild. I watched this because I liked Starrett as Myrna Loy's object of torture in THE MASK OF FU MANCHU; I didn't like him quite as much here (a little wooden and less handsome than he was eight years earlier). For its genre, however, the movie works well, with good plotting, a brisk one-hour running time, and four songs from the Sons of the Pioneers who also provide a little comic relief. [TCM]

No comments: