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Directed by Fred F. Sears
Produced by Colbert Clark
Written by Howard J. Green
Director Of Photography: Fayte M. Browne
Film Editor: Paul Borofsky

Cast: Charles Starrett (Steve Martin/The Durango Kid), Smiley Burnette (Smiley), Jack Mahoney (Jack Mahoney), Clayton Moore (The Hawk), Eddie Parker (Skeeter), Jim Diehl (Al Travis), Lane Chandler (George), Syd Saylor (Yank-Em-Out Kennedy), John Cason (Duke), LeRoy Johnson (Smoky), Jack Carry (Pete), Sam Flint (Clark Mahoney)


Have been concentrating on the book, which has kept me kinda absent on here. My recent research has been on the unsung director Fred F. Sears.

Charles Starrett starred in The Durango Kid, in 1940. Columbia didn’t get around to The Return Of The Durango Kid till 1945. By the time the series was shut down in 1952, Columbia had cranked out 65 Durango Kid movies — at which point Starrett retired from movies.

One of the last of the series, The Hawk Of Wild River (1952) has a terrific cast, adding Jock Mahoney and Clayton Moore to the usual Durango roster. Of course, Mahoney had been part of the series for quite a while, doubling for Charles Starrett.

After being replaced by John Hart for the third season of The Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore went back to work as one of the best, and busiest, bad guys in Hollywood. First up was the Republic serial Radar Men From The Moon (1952). In The Hawk Of Wild River, he’s The Hawk, a half-breed bandit who’s as proficient with a bow and arrow as he is with a six-gun.

This time around, US Marshal Steve Martin (Charles Starrett) is sent to the town of Wild River to stop a run of stagecoach robberies by The Hawk and his gang. The Hawk has been killing off Wild River’s sheriffs as fast as they can pin a badge on ’em. When Steve hits town, the acting sheriff is Jack Mahoney (Jock Mahoney). The Durango Kid captures The Hawk and once he’s in jail, Martin gets himself arrested and thrown into The Hawk’s cell, never revealing that he’s a Federal man. They escape and Martin joins The Hawk’s gang — and with the help of his alter ego, The Durango Kid, eventually bring the outlaws to justice.

Along the way, Smiley Burnette is hypnotized and convinced he’s a “heap big” Indian chief. And as always happens with these things, he comes close to screwing up Martin’s plans.

Running just 53 minutes, The Hawk Of Wild River is a pretty typical Durango Kid movie, clearly aimed at kids. The usual things are in place: Smiley doing his silly stuff, Starrett donning his Durango outfit (and riding Raider) and lots of riding and fighting and shooting. Director Fred F. Sears keeps it moving at a quick pace, and director of photography Fayte Browne makes it all look like a million bucks. The Iverson Ranch is really used well in this one.

Fred F. Sears started out working as a character actor and dialogue director on the Durango Kid pictures and eventually climbed into the director’s chair. From there, he became a fixture in Sam Katzman’s unit at Columbia until he died in his office on the lot in 1957 (with eight films still awaiting release). It’s a real shame he never got a bigger budget or longer schedule.

Stuntman and actor Eddie Parker plays Skeeter. The next year, he’d play Mr. Hyde in Abbott & Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1953) and the Mummy in Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy (1955). The guy’s in about anything you can think of.

The Hawk Of Wild River is one of the 10 movies in Mill Creek’s budget-friendly two-disc setThe Durango Kid Collection. The transfer looks wonderful — with this one and the other nine films. It’s a nice little set, and it comes highly recommended. (Wish they’d get around to a volume two!)

RIP, L.Q. Jones.

L. Q. Jones (Justus Ellis McQueen, Jr.)
(August 19, 1927 – July 9, 2022)

The great Western character actor L.Q. Jones has passed away at 94.

His real name was Justus Ellis McQueen, Jr., but for the screen, he took his name from his first picture, Battle Cry (1955).

Jones worked with some of the greats of 50s Westerns: Randolph Scott (1958’s Buchanan Rides Alone, above), Joel McCrea and Audie Murphy. Sam Peckinpah made him a member of his stock company, casting Jones in five of his films. He stayed extremely busy on TV, often in Westerns, throughout the 60s and 70s. And he wrote, produced and directed the 1975 science fiction film A Boy And His Dog.

He was a great storyteller, as the many YouTube videos of him will prove.

L.Q. is T.C., the bad guy on the far right, in this promo still from Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969). He became close friends with Strother Martin (upper left). 

Happy Independence Day!

Here’s a lobby card from Republic’s Bells Of Capistrano (1942) to mark the Fourth Of July (1942).

Gene Autry entered the Air Force a few days after principal photography wrapped on this one. It was his last picture till he picked things up after the war with Sioux City Sue (1946). He only made five films for Republic before moving over to Columbia for the rest of his film career.

Here’s wishing you all a fun, safe Independence Day!

Directed by Walter Hill
Starring David Carradine, Keith Carradine, Robert Carradine, James Keach, Stacy Keach, Dennis Quaid, Randy Quaid, Christopher Guest, Nicholas Guest, Pamela Reid, Harry Carey Jr., Fran Ryan

Imprint has announced Directed By Walter Hill, a Blu-Ray set of six films directed by Walter Hill: Hard Times (1975), The Driver (1978), The Long Riders (1980), Extreme Prejudice (1987), Johnny Handsome (1989) and Broken Trail (2006).

This is good news, first, because I absolutely love The Driver and The Long Riders—and because among the many extras to be including in this thing, I get to do a commentary for The Long Riders—one of the best of the many Jesse James movies. It’s almost certainly the most accurate.

The folks at Imprint do extraordinary work, always, and I’m overjoyed to be a tiny part of this one. Highly recommended.

Here’s the second episode of The Carbon Arc Podcast. This time, we focus on Frank Tashlin’s Son Of Paleface (1952).

Hope you enjoy it. And a big thanks to Bob Madison for playing along.

Marion Mitchell Morrison (born Marion Robert Morrison)
May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979

John Wayne was born 115 years ago today. Here he is with Gary Cooper and Gene Autry. Judging by what they’re wearing, it looks like Coop was shooting The Hanging Tree and Duke was working on Rio Bravo (both 1959).

This has to be one of the coolest photos ever stuck on this blog.

The first episode of The Carbon Arc Podcast is up and running — with Mr. Phil Hopkins of The Film Detective as our guest. (The second one is being plotted as I type this.)

You can click on the thing up top to hear/see it on YouTube, or you can find it on podcast-y corral things like Podomatic.

Hope you enjoy it.

Okay, Here Goes.

Here’s a trailer for The Carbon Arc Podcast.

Directed by Hugo Fregonese
Starring Stephen McNally, Coleen Gray, Willard Parker, Arthur Shields, James Griffith, Armando Silvestre, Georgia Backus, Clarence Muse

Apache Drums (1951) was producer Val Lewton’s last film; he died before its release. Though this was his only Western, and the only time he would produce a Technicolor film, Apache Drums is very much an extension of his earlier work in horror films at RKO. It’s a terrific, but sadly overlooked, 50s Western.

It’s coming to DVD and Blu-Ray in November from Explosive Media. I’m so stoked about this one. Highly, highly, highly recommended.

Directed by Raoul Walsh
Starring Rock Hudson, Julie Adams, Mary Castle, John McIntire, Hugh O’Brian, Dennis Weaver, Forrest Lewis, Lee Van Cleef, Glenn Strange

Next up from Explosive Media is Raoul Walsh’s The Lawless Breed (1953), coming to DVD and Blu-Ray (region free!) in September.

Raoul Walsh, Rock Hudson and Julie Adams during shooting.

It’s a pretty inaccurate story of the outlaw John Wesley Hardin, played by Rock Hudson. The manuscript for his autobiography is used to launch the picture as a series of flashbacks. 

With Walsh’s typical no-nonsense, propulsive direction, a really strong cast and incredible Technicolor photography from Irving Glassberg (which will really be something to see in high definition), The Lawless Breed plays as a better movie than it actually is. Highly recommended.