23 April 2006 | krorie
Where's the river?
Not a bad outing for Durango Kid fans; there's plenty of action with the second lead, Jock Mahoney, playing who else but...Jack Mahoney. Jock doubles for Charles Starrett as the Durango Kid, which made doubling easy yet complicated. In one scene Jock Mahoney as Jack Mahoney is chasing Jock Mahoney as the Durango Kid, in other words Jock is chasing himself. Having two cowboy leads is not necessarily doubling the viewer's fun. Though Mahoney and Starrett worked well together, much better than Smiley Burnette and Starrett, attempting to give the Saturday matinée crowd two heroes at one time tended to confuse the audience.
Smiley gets to perform, showing off his multitude of musical talents, including a harmonica duet with Harmonica Bill. His comedy is lame to the point that the film makers speed up the action mechanically to make Smiley appear funny. At the end Smiley talks directly to the audience which had been done previously by the likes of Groucho Marx, George Burns, and would be one of the highlights of the later movie, "Tom Jones." The way Burnette does it seems a bit forced and distracts from the denouement of the film.
The story centers on a stage line run by pretty Betty Coulter (Delores Sidener in her only film appearance) who hires Jack Mahoney to help after Jack's father, Henry (Edgar Dearing), is murdered by Pop Rockland (Steve Darrell) in retaliation for Henry killing one of Pop's sons during a stage coach stickup. During the fracas, Jack and Betty fall for each other. A seemingly disreputable outlaw, Steve Baldwin (Starrett in yet another of his "Steve" manifestations), enters. Baldwin tells only Henry that he is a postal detective on the trail of thieves who have been robbing the U.S. Mail. Circulating a fake reward poster that reports Steve as a wanted man with a price on his head, Steve is able to join the outlaw band to catch Pop and his surviving two sons. Playing a pretend bad guy, Starrett gets to show off his acting ability. He actually does a good job portraying the good and the bad in the same person to the point that he even looks different when he changes from one character to the other. His third role as Durango is a bit less challenging, since Durango wears a mask.
The title "Pecos River" is even more irrelevant than usual for a shoot-'em-up. Not only is the Pecos River not in the picture, but there is no river at all. The scenery looks a lot more like southern California than any place in Texas.
Though this Durango Kid outing is somewhat routine, fans of Charles Starrett and Smiley Burnette should enjoy it. "Pecos River" also gives the viewers a chance to see a great stuntman turned actor, Jock Mahoney, in a starring role yet still performing stunts.