19 November 2005 | krorie
Tim Holt Without Chito
Tim Holt was a topnotch actor. He had gritty parts in such movie classics as "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre." He came from a family of actors. His father, Jack Holt, was one of the best. His sister, Jennifer Holt, added depth of character to the roles she played in B westerns. Some of the finest B westerns of the 40's and 50's were made by Tim Holt. "Thundering Hoofs" is a typical early-Tim Holt oater. Fans were never disappointed with a Tim Holt film. Later in the 1940's Tim started working with Richard Martin who played the womanizing Mexican-Irish-American Chito Jose Gonzalez Bustamente Rafferty. Chito came to be one of the best of the cowboy sidekicks, right up there with such greats as Gabby Hayes, Pancho, and Fuzzy St. John. So Tim Holt fans who enjoy seeing Chito may be somewhat disappointed with "Thudering Hoofs." Lee 'Lasses' White, aka Whopper, is weak in the comedy department. He has one-dimensional humor. He is always hungry. So joke is piled on top of joke ad nauseam about his eating habits. He comes across as a poor man's Gabby Hayes. This is one of the few weaknesses of the film. The rest is action with a strong plot.
Tim was not a singing cowboy. Eventually when he teams with Chito music is left out of his movies altogether, except for background accompaniment to enhance the action. In "Thundering Hoofs" the talented singer, musician, songwriter, Ray Whitley (who plays Smokey Ryan) provides the singing. He was also adept at riding, roping, and shooting. In many ways he was a co-star. Today Whitley is most famous for writing Gene Autry's theme "Back In The Saddle Again." If you look closely at Whitley's band in the movie, you'll see the somewhat infamous western swing icon Spade Cooley playing the fiddle.
Unlike most B westerns, "Thundering Hoofs" has a fairly complex plot. Tim's father owns one stage line and is attempting to take over another being run by pretty Nancy Kellogg (Luana Walters). Tim wants nothing to do with his father's stage business. He wants instead to be a rancher and punch cattle. Enter sinister Steve Farley (Archie Twitchell) who naturally wants it all for himself and his henchmen. To complicate the situation, Tim seeks to help Nancy against his own father's efforts to take over her line. He takes on an assumed name and the action begins. If you're a fan this one is not to be missed. Others should enjoy it also.