The blog of a Western fan, for other Western fans

Derringer in a cake

The TV
schedules announced Rustlers as the
1919 short and I was delighted, not having seen it – I didn’t even know it
survived. That movie is an early Hoot Gibson, the 29th of his 192 Westerns, and
it was directed by John Ford. Sadly, however, the writers of the blurb in the TV
guide had got it wrong and it was the 1949 Rustlers
that they were showing, which is a black & white Tim Holt programmer. Sigh.

Still, I
watched it. Well, you gotta. And it was worth it. Not because it was any
different from all the other Tim Holt Westerns. Tim was there with sidekick
Chito Rafferty (Richard Martin) foiling skullduggery and smiling winsomely, as always. But
because a derringer plays a central part in it.
One of the long series of oaters Tim Holt did for RKO
regular readers of this blog, both of them, will know that I am besotted with what
one reader told me was always called in her family “a villain gun”. I am
something of a derringer aficionado, if truth be told, and any movie that contains
one will go up in my estimation. Rustlers
contains an especially good one.

In a 1953
episode of The Range Rider called Outlaw Pistols, the bad guy Laredo
(George L Lewis) fools young Dick West, “all-American boy” (Dickie Jones), by
crafting a derringer out of soap. He uses it to threaten the sheriff’s daughter
and make Dick let him out of jail. See, not only a sneaky hideout gun for a
bandit used against a sweet girl but it’s not even real! Boy, is that tricky.
Well, perhaps the makers of that deathless TV show had seen Rustlers because a derringer is also
used in a jail break there. This time, saloon gal Trixie Fontaine (Lois
Andrews) bakes a cake with a derringer at its center and the dumb sheriff doesn’t
even check it, though he makes a play for the cake, wishing to deny the chocolate
sumptuousness to the prisoners Tim and Chito, and swallow it himself. Anyway,
that was a thrill.

Rustlers was directed by Lesley Selander, like many of
the Tim Holt series, and Mr. Selander knew a thing or two about making B-Westerns.
He ought to: he was involved in 184 of them, from 1925 to 1968.
Martha is convinced that Chito is a rustler
movie is slightly unusual because normally Tim shows no interest in the girls
at all, leaving that to Chito, but this time he gets Ruth (Martha Hyer) at the
end – very chastely, of course. No kiss or anything like that. Trixie is left
to Chito, though as she wants to marry him, he runs a mile, as always.

time Tim Holt is Dick McBride. Usually he was Tim Holt. His horse Lightning
also plays a key role in the skullduggery-thwarting.

Well, it
wasn’t Hoot Gibson and John Ford, but it made for a pleasant 61 minutes.


2 Responses

  1. Paladin carries a derringer in his belt buckle. I wonder if that is one of the (many!) things that make him morally ambiguous!

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