RIDERS OF THE BADLANDS. Columbia Pictures, 1941. Charles Starrett, Russell Hayden, Cliff Edwards, Ilene Brewer, Kay Hughes, Roy Barcroft. Director: Howard Bretherton.

   A fairly ordinary early 40s western, except for a few observations I thought I’d make, but in truth, the only reason I watched this one is that Charles Starrett is in it, and he’s one of my favorite western actors of the B-movie variety. I also thought The Durango Kid was in it, but alas, I was wrong about that.

   Among points of interest, though: Starrett plays both the good guy — a Texas Ranger — and the bad guy, two fellows who just happen to look exactly alike. So close are they that when Starrett the bad guy is wanted for murder the fellow who’s put in jail is Starrett the good guy. It takes some good camera work to get them to appear on the screen at the same time, and in fact, it was better than good.

   One surprising aspect of the story is that the story begins with Russell Hayden’s brand new wife being killed, just as they start out in a stagecoach on their honeymoon. I sort of knew that’s where the story was going to go, but it was still shocking when it really happened.

   Also interesting was the fact that the bad guy had a young teen-aged daughter (Ilene Brewer) who is crazy about him. You know he will be caught and hauled off to jail, and when he is, you have to wonder what will happen to her. I don’t suppose you will mind if I tell you that the movie ends with her going off to boarding school waving out of a stagecoach window.

   One last point. Every so often the story stops while Cliff Edwards is given an opportunity to play the ukulele and sing. It’s OK the first time, but by the third time around, the thrill has begun to fade.

   Otherwise, as I said up top, a fairly ordinary 1940s western of the B-movie variety. There wasn’t room in the story for Durango to appear, but now that I think about it, wouldn’t that have been something?