As the name implies, 1945's "The Return of the Durango Kid" marks the second appearance of Charles Starrett as a wandering cowboy whose alter ego is known as "The Durango Kid" (also the title of his first film appearance in 1940). Thus begins what at the time must have seemed an endless series of Durango Kid films lasting into the early 50's. It was a confusing concept because Starrett's non-Durango character always goes by a different name, usually Steve "Something" but here it is Bill Blaydon.
Blaydon comes to a small town in 1875 Texas in a quest to clear his dead father's name. His father was the first Durango Kid although none of this stuff seems to tie into the 1940 story. It turns out that saloon owner Lee Kirby (John Calvert) is the one who framed Bill's father, and his gang is now regularly robbing the stage line. The woman who holds the stage line franchise is "Buckskin" Liz Bancroft (played by perennial B-movie prison matron Betty Roadman). She is in danger of losing the line if the hold-ups continue.
Bill's love interest is provided by the standard" saloon girl with a heart-of-gold", Paradise Flo (Jean Stevens) who is kinda purdy.
Because Bill (dressed in a light colored shirt and white hat) is a fair hand with a gun and the gang does not know he is the Kid (who dresses in a black shirt and hat), he is able to bluff them into leaving town by convincing them both gunfighters oppose them.
1945 was the heart of the singing cowboy era; apparently Starrett could not carry a tune because the singing is provided by a group of cowboys called "The Jesters", a knock off of "The Sons of the Pioneers". Some of their song lyrics are funny and these moments of comic relief are inserted in the film at completely inappropriate times, giving it all a surreal quality.
This was a pretty expensive and elaborate effort for a Columbia western and is better than you might expect. The gunfights are rather weak but otherwise Starrett makes a good western hero.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
13 out of 15 found this helpful