The Llano Kid (1939)

Approved   |    |  Western

The Llano Kid (1939) Poster

Lora Travers is the only person who can identify hold-up artist The Llano Kid and she persuades him to come in on a scheme with her and her husband. They have been searching for the ... See full summary »

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2 August 1999 | stryker-5
"Don't Look Back!"
On the Texas-Mexico border, some time in the 19th century, a romantic highwayman named The Llano Kid is busy robbing stagecoaches. A husband and wife team of adventurers, John and Loretta Travers, are searching for Enrique Ibarra when their stagecoach falls victim to The Kid's depredations.

Enrique Ibarra is the lost heir to a vast fortune and a latafundia estate south of the border. The Travers pair will prosper if they can find the missing man. But wait - The Llano Kid is handsome, charming, latino and about the right age ... now, if he could be persuaded to pose as Enrique...

This pleasant little Paramount horse opera is based on an O.Henry story. Tito Guizar, a sort of Errol-Flynn-from-the-barrio, plays The Kid with charm applied with a trowel and a singing voice pitched at alarming heights. The part of Lora Travers is taken by Gale Sondergaard. Lora is a 'bad lot', the beautiful but wicked lady who loves The Kid in vain. We can tell that she is a fallen woman because she always has a drink in her hand. She even flirts with The Kid before her husband's eyes. The contrast between Lora and the virginal Lupita Sandoval (Jane Clayton) could not be more extreme.

The outdoor scenes show the majesty of the southern Rockies to great effect. Composition is tight all the way through, and the saloon is decorated with some unusual and interesting murals.

And yet this attractive film has more than its share of glitches. The focus is lost twice, the worst case being in the saloon when The Kid walks towards the camera. Errors like this should not have survived the editing process. Would a sheriff (Minor Watson) really convene a 'court' in a saloon, empanel a jury and try a murder? When Lora is asked to identify the robber, everyone conveniently ignores the outrageously elaborate costume that The Kid is wearing - and wore for the hold-up. Once The Kid has been cleared, why does he confess to the sheriff? Why offer such a hostage to fortune, for no conceivable benefit? If the Ibarra family are so severely Old Hispanic, how come nobody bats an eyelid when The Kid and Lupita are found together in the chapel, late at night, unchaperoned? And no self-respecting madresita would allow herself to be carried bodily into the house by a man with all the servants watching, as Dona Teresa (Emma Dunn) does here.

Finally, all is resolved and The Llano Kid completes his transition into Enrique Ibarra. The future is secure. There will be no looking back.

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