Frontier Outlaws (March 4, 1944)
Released on March 4, 1944: Billy the Kid is accused of murder and put in jail as he tries to help a small town rid itself of the outlaws controlling it.
Directed by Sam Newfield
Written by Joseph O'Donnell.
The Actors: Buster Crabbe (Billy Carson, Billy the Kid), Al 'Fuzzy' St. John (Fuzzy Jones), Frances Gladwin (Pat Clark), Marin Sais (Ma Clark), Charles King (Barlow), Emmett Lynn (Judge James Ryan), Jack Ingram (Taylor), Kermit Maynard (henchman Wallace), Ed Cassidy (Sheriff), Budd Buster (clerk / bartender), Jimmy Aubrey (barfly), Silver Tip Baker (stage driver), Horace B. Carpenter (barlfy), John L. Cason (rancher), Tex Cooper (rancher), Bert Dillard (Clark rider Bert), Frank Ellis (Rusty Bradford, hired killer), Augie Gomez (henchman), Herman Hack (henchman), Silver Harr (rancher), Ray Henderson (henchman Dave), Cactus Mack (man at trial), Carl Mathews (henchman in bar), George Morrell (barfly), Artie Ortego (henchman), Jack Tornek (barfly), Wally West (cowhand), Dan White (stage guard), Tex Williams (band member cowhand).
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In the early 1960's, well before the original Star Trek, I was introduced to science fiction by my dad, who brought my attention to a Saturday morning television show featuring movie serials from the 1940's. It was Buster Crabbe, flying through space and dealing with outer space villains as Flash Gordon! Dad told me about how Crabbe was a famous movie star from the old days. Until I grew up and became fascinated with old movies I don't recall ever seeing him again, but now I appreciate his cowboy movies even more than my boyhood image of the hero of outer space. My boyhood memories of Billy the Kid are that he was a famous outlaw, but the classic movies about him more often than not portray him as a 'Robin Hood' of young America, sometimes breaking the law, but always the motive is not greed, but to right the wrongs that the law cannot attempt. This adventure is in that vein, and Billy the Kid is the fellow loved by the abused ranchers and enemy of the outlaws. When the local outlaws hire a killer to gun Billy down, Billy instead kills the assassin, but the outlaw, played by my favorite bad guy Charles King, tries to frame Billy for murder. That's about all you need to know about this cowboy western, except that it is unusual in it's tenor. Sure, there is plenty of hard riding, gun shooting, bar room fighting cowboy stuff that you expect, and even the obligatory cowboy song by some anonomous musician/cowhands, but there is something that you might not expect. Many crime stories, whether cowboy or big city gangster stories, have a bit of comedy relief to calm the tension in the story, but this cowboy adventure is almost more comedy than crime. Character actors Marin Sais, as a hard-boiled ranch widow who still wants to find a good man, chases outrageously funny Emmett Lynn, who is the town judge. The courtroom scene might as well be a comedy sketch on your favorite funny show instead of part of a tense crime thriller. Al St. John, the usual comic relief in these cowboy shows is totally upstaged by these two actors and I dare you to keep from smiling, heck, you will probably break into a full belly laugh during the scene where Billy the Kid faces justice in the small town courtroom. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and drizzle plenty of warm melted butter on it and get ready for a rootin-tootin good time in the old west with another Billy the Kid adventure!
Al 'Fuzzy' St. John in Frontier Outlaws
Al St. John and Buster Crabbe
Al St. John starts a fight with clerk Budd Buster
Budd Buster and Buster Crabbe
Buster Crabbe gets the drop on Charles King in his office
Buster Crabbe, disguised as a Mexican bandito
Buster Crabbe in the 1944 Cowboy Adventure Frontier Outlaws
Charles King challenges Buster Crabbe to a shoot out
Charles King and Marin Sais
Charles King gets the drop on Buster Crabbe
Charles King as outlaw Barlow in Frontier Outlaws
Emmett Lynn is flaberghasted after being kissed by Marin Sais in the courtroom
Emmett Lynn and Marin Sais in Frontier Outlaws
Emmett Lynn as Judge James Ryan in Frontier Outlaws
Frank Ellis as hired killer Rusty Bradford
Jack Ingram and Charles King in Frontier Outlaws
Jack Ingram in Frontier Outlaws, 1944
Kermit Maynard, one of the henchmen in Frontier Outlaws
Marin Sais and Frances Gladwin try to get to town
Marin Sais and Frances Gladwin in Frontier Outlaws
Tex Williams tries to steal a pie after Marin Sais sets them on the window sill to cool.