Since this seems to be nostalgia week, and since several bloggers are talking about some of their favorite tv shows and movies, I'll mention a name here that only a portion of you will be familiar with.
Tim Holt (from Turner Classic Movies)
"Began his career as a child actor in silent films starring his father, Jack Holt, and graduated to juvenile parts in B productions of the 1930s. Holt landed significant roles in Orson Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942) and, opposite Humphrey Bogart, in John Huston's "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948)."
Quite a career, eh? Two of the finest films ever made. So why haven't you ever heard of this guy?
I'm not sure. Even though he had major roles in both films, even though his reviews were terrific, he went straight from these films into a series of B westerns for RKO. To be fair to the quote from TCM, their writer finds his westerns "routine."
I think they're better than that. Something like a quarter century ago I wrote a piece for a book on western film stars. My subject was Roy Rogers and Gene Autry-compare and contrast. I had so much of my early childhood invested in their films that I could hardly knock them. But I did point out that they were aimed primarily at kids. I also noted that the stolid Gene reminded me of the family insurance salesman and that Roy was the sort of goofy older brother you were sometimes embarrassed to claim. Plus there was their singing. They were both pretty good at it and a lot of the Dale Evans stage numbers in the Rogers pictures were very good. She was pretty, shapely and she could sing. And the dance routines were lavish for a B.
I remember channel surfing past a country music channel that claimed that tonight some "real cowboys" would be dancing the "tush push." Yes, you find frequent references to "tush pushing" in most histories of the American West.
That's why, as I got older, I preferred the Tim Holts. I watched a few of them recently and realized that they were aimed for the upper end of the young audience. Tim's intensity wasn't anything you ever saw in Roy or Gene. And even the comic relief, with an Irish actor playing a Mexican ass-bandit, was a mite racy for ten year olds. (Othe cowpokes joked about girls; you had the feeling that ole Chico might actually have done the deed once or twice.)
I'm not making the case that these were major westerns in any sense. But the scripts were often enjoyable mysteries, the acting was solid, and the RKO B factory could trick up a beleivable west in all respects.
And nobody sang a single note.