EDDIE DEAN

COLORADO SERENADE. PRC, 1946. Eddie Dean, Roscoe Ates, David Sharpe, Mary Kenyon, Forrest Taylor, Dennis Moore, Abigail Adams, Warner Richmond, Lee Bennett, Robert McKenzie. Screenplay: Frances Kavanaugh. Director: Robert Emmett Tansey.

THE TIOGA KID. PRC, 1948. Eddie Dean, Roscoe Ates, Jennifer Holt, Dennis Moore, Lee Bennett. Screenplay: Ed Earl Repp. Director: Ray Taylor.

   Personally, speaking for myself, Eddie Dean is the unlikeliest of B-western heroes that I can think of, although perhaps I’m not thinking hard enough. From a distance he doesn’t have the body build of a cowboy, and in the movies he’s been in that I’ve seen, he’s far more handy with a guitar and a song than he is with a gun. On the other hand, in The Tioga Kid, he has a huge smash-up-the-bunkhouse fight with another guy that busts up the stove, the bunks, the table and several chairs to boot. Very nice!

   As far as songs are concerned, there are more in Colorado Serenade than there are in the later movie, four to maybe only three, but the latter makes up for it by adding an equal amount of time in watching the bad guys being chased by the good guys on horses, or is it the other way around? Who can tell.

EDDIE DEAN

   One big difference between the two movies is that the first one is filmed in color, and this I found impressive. Not many B-westerns were filmed in color in 1946. (Were there?) It also has a story line that’s actually interesting, one which has Eddie and his pal Soapy (Roscoe Ates) giving a helping hand to a circuit judge (Forrest Taylor) being sent to clean up one of those towns in the west being run by a gang of outlaws.

   But wait. There’s more. Unknown to the judge, always willing to give a bad man the benefit of the doubt if he decides to go straight, is that the head of the gang he’s after is his son, who kidnapped by a really bad guy when he was just a boy. In fact neither father nor son knows the relationship between them, which gives the movie a deeper meaning than do most films of this caliber.

EDDIE DEAN

   No such luck when it comes to The Tioga Kid, which is about as dull as it could be, even though Eddie Dean plays two characters in this one, two brothers, one good, one bad. This is a fact unknown to either one of them, but since the two are all but identical, there are some who suspect they’re related. But while the resemblance really is uncanny, you can easily tell which one is the Tioga Kid. He’s the one who dresses in black with a cigarette dangling from the left side of his mouth.

   There’s not much more to the story than this. It is a remake, although never mentioned, of an earlier Eddie Dean film, Driftin’ River (PRC, 1946), written by the same Frances Kavanaugh who was responsible for Serenade. In the latter several scenes are taken – not remade, but simply taken from the former and inserted into this one (see below). I wonder how it happened that pulp western writer Ed Earl Repp got credit for the screenplay. From the description of Driftin’ River, he added very little. (One source says about 15 minutes’ worth.)

EDDIE DEAN

   Amusingly (sort of), there is a scene in Tioga in which a grizzled old ranchhand (William Fawcett, I believe) appears briefly perched on a fence as the ranch lady tries to break a bronco, then disappears mid-scene, never to show up again. Tioga, as it turns out, was either the last or next to last movie produced by PRC. They’d reached the bottom of the barrel, the end of the line, and it shows.

   But getting back to Colorado Serenade briefly, I see I’ve failed to mention famed stuntman David Sharpe. He has a rare starring role in this one, a mysterious young cowboy with a big handsome smile. No one in the movie seems to know how he gets around or which side of the fence he’s on, but I think somebody missed a bet. Eddie Dean was OK, but charisma, he was a little short of. It’s only a thought in passing, but I wonder how David Sharpe would have fared if he’d been the star of long line of B-western movies too. Says IMDB, he “probably holds the honor of being in more films (albeit, often uncredited as a stuntman) than any other person in Hollywood history.” Four or five thousand, can it be?

EDDIE DEAN