David Vineyard left this comment to a short piece written by Ed Hulse about Charles Starrett, star of the Durango Kid movies, but since I’m in the process of reviewing some of the Durango movies, myself, it seems like an appropriate time to re-post it here:


    “My first exposure to Charles Starret wasn’t in a western at all. He is the young leading man in the excellent Mask of Fu Manchu with Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy as the evil doctor and his daughter, Lewis Stone as Nayland Smith, Karen Morley as the romantic interest, and Jean Hersholt.

    “It was only later that I saw the Durango Kid films. They still show up once in a while on the Encore Western channel, and the comic book based on them had a long run — though they can be pricey since Frank Frazetta’s White Indian was the backup feature.”

   And as long as we’re talking western movies, David left the following comment after my review of Mackenna’s Gold (1969), a rousing western adventure starring Gregory Peck and a host of other well-known actors, not all of whom are well-known for being in westerns:

    “Mackenna’s Gold, based on a terrific book by Will Henry (aka Clay Fisher and also Heck Allen who wrote cartoons for MGM during the Tex Avery era) is a big shaggy likable movie. It never really comes together, but there is so much going on and everyone is trying so hard that you feel like giving it a pass when it misfires.

    “There are some high points, including Edward G. Robinson as Old Adams of the Lost Adams Mine, and Julie Newmar as the most statuesque Apache in history. For the most part the movie sticks to the book, save at the end which is unfortunate. There are some fair special effects (for the time, they are pretty obvious now), and nice set pieces.

Mackenna's Gold

    “The real problem is that Omar Sharif is such a charming rogue that they couldn’t kill him off so the film gets a little distracted toward the end. Those that have read Will Henry’s novel will understand that the climax of the film is a bit of a disappointment, though it does manage some elements of the original. Victor Jory’s narration is great.

    “Two other caveats, Jose Feliciano crooning “Old Turkey Buzzard” will drive you to distraction, and a fine cast including Lee J. Cobb, Burgess Meredith, Anthony Quayle, Eli Wallach, Eduardo Cianelli, and Raymond Massey are largely wasted. On the other hand Keenan Wynn has fun chewing scenery as Sharif’s Mexican bandit crony, and Ted Cassidy is menacing as a giant mute Apache and there is a hint Rudy Soble might have been able to do something with a noble Apache, but doesn’t get the chance.

    “One correction, Telly Savalas doesn’t play a cavalry officer, but a treacherous sergeant who betrays his men for a shot at Adams Gold. Those who know their western history will know that the Lost Adams Mine is a real life treasure that modern adventurers are still looking for. In many ways Mackenna’s Gold is less a modern Treasure of Sierra Madre than a precursor of Raiders of the Lost Ark.”