11 February 2006 | Jim Tritten
Durango avenges his father's death
In "The Return of the Durango Kid," the handsome and athletic Charles Starrett plays two characters set in 1875 Silver City, Texas: that of the son of a murdered rancher seeking to clear his name and that of the mysterious masked West Texas gunman who bends the law but is always on its right side. The outcome is never in doubt.
The writing is formula but it has a few twists and turns to keep the viewer's interest. The loot is cleverly hidden, keeps changing hands, and there is an innovative exploding strong box to contend with. Starrett is good in the leading role and Jean Stevens is nice to look at and does a credible job of the forward bad girl Paradise Flo who falls for the hero (she returns in a different role in "Frontier Gunlaw"). John Calvert is an excellent villain. Tex Harding is the side-kick Jim and he appears in a number of follow-on Durango Kid films in various roles. There are just enough musical numbers by "The Jesters" to annoy but the words to some of those songs are a real hoot, e.g. "He Holds the Lantern While his Mother Cuts the Wood." The Return of the Durango Kid is the first real follow-on to the popular 1940 "Durango Kid". Columbia's 1944 "Sagebrush Heroes" has him playing a radio actor play that only plays the "Durango Kid" on the air. In "The Return of the Durango Kid," Starrett's name is Bill Blaydon but in all other films, his name is different. Starrett rides off into the West at the end of this film remarking that there is some trouble elsewhere making it clear to his audience that he would return. The series was so popular that it lasted until 1952 with a total of over sixty entries.