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Archive for the ‘Sonny Tufts’ Category

Directed by Oliver Drake
Produced by Charles “Buddy” Rogers
Written by Oliver Drake & John Mantley
Director Of Photography: Clark Ramsey
Film Editor: Warren Adams
Music by Joe Sodja

Cast: Anthony Dexter (Billy The Kid), Sonny Tufts (Jack Slade), Marie Windsor (Tonya), Charles “Buddy” Rogers (Rev. Jericho Jones), Jean Parker (Sarah Jones), Robert Lowery (Col. Jefferson Morgan), Bob Steele (Ace Jardine), Bob Duncan (Pat Garrett)

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With Pat Garrett’s help, Billy The Kid (Anthony Dexter) fakes his own death so he can live out his life in peace. Traveling to the town of Four Corners, he plans to run his small ranch under an assumed name.

When a big rancher (Robert Lowery) brings in the gunman Jack Slade (Sonny Tufts) to help him take over Four Corners, The Kid stays out of it — even when he finds out they’ve been using his ranch as a hideout. The local preacher (Charles Rogers), who knows The Kid is The Kid, finally encourages him to strap on his guns again.

The Parson And The Outlaw (1957) is a fascinating, if ultimately not very good, Western. It brings together all sorts of things that make 50s Westerns so special to me.

The picture was produced by Charles “Buddy” Rogers, a silent actor (1927’s Wings) maybe best known for marrying Mary Pickford. At various times, Rogers also worked as a writer, gag man, director, bandleader and producer. After producing The Parson And The Outlaw, he did Hot Rod Gang and High School Hellcats (both 1958).

It was directed and co-written by Oliver Drake, who seemed to live a life almost completely saturated with making Westerns. Most of them are really cheap, some aren’t very good, but he made a lifelong career out of it. If nothing else, he co-wrote Riders Of The Whistling Skull (1937) and his story became Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957). His book Written, Produced & Directed: The Autobiography Of Oliver Drake needs to be reprinted somewhere, somehow.

Then there’s Marie Windsor, my favorite actress. Her fake accent is terrible, but it’s Marie Windsor — in Technicolor! Anthony Dexter is wretched, but you can always depend on Sonny Tufts and Bob Steele. 

The cabin set you see Miss Windsor in (above) looks tiny and like it cost 37 cents to construct. But there’s a sincerity to the whole thing that really helps put it over.

Director Of Photography Clark Ramsey shot pictures like I Killed Geronimo (1950), Superman And The Mole Men (1951), Gold Fever (1952) and Hidden Guns (1956). Ramsey was from Palo Pinto County in central Texas (the tiny town of Brad, with just a couple dozen people). My grandparents lived in nearby (and also quite tiny) Strawn.

In short, The Parson And The Outlaw (1957) is a cheap Western that means well, but doesn’t quite deliver — mainly because it’s so obviously cheap. But given the folks involved, it has plenty of curb appeal for fans of 50s (or earlier) Westerns. It’s a real shame it hasn’t made its way to DVD or Blu-Ray.

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