Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Bill Cody (1891-1948) -- his actual name; no relation to Buffalo Bill Cody -- starred in a long string of westerns beginning in 1925.  He started out as a stuntman and worked his way up as an actor for 'Poverty Row" B movies.  In between various studio stints Cody toured with a number of wild west shows and circuses.  Beginning in 1934, Cody starred in four westerns with his son Bill, Jr. and he was billed as Bill, Sr. (which could have been confusing for some of his friends because Cody was born William Joseph Cody, Jr. in Manitoba in 1891, which would have made Bill, Sr. a Jr., then what would Bill, Jr. do?)

Andy Shuford was fourteen when he co-starred with Cody in The Montana Kid.  He started his film career as one of Hal Roach's Rascals; his character was never given a name.  Shuford starred with Cody in several "Bill and Andy" oaters.  He left films to join the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and became a highly decorated pilot.  H left the Air Corps as a colonel but never returned to the movies.

Doris Hill plays the newly-arrived niece of the local marshal because a hero has to get the gal at the end of a flick.  A former vaudeville dancer, Hill began her film career in 1926, appearing opposite such actors as Tim Tyler, George O'Hara, and Syd Chaplin (charlie's half brother).  Her career seemed to going well until she appeared in 1929's His Glorious Night, starring John Gilbert in his first released "talkie."  (There's a long-standing story that Gilbert's voice was so high-pitched and squeaky in this movie that it basically ended his career as a matinee idol.  There is also a story that Louie B. Mayer had technicians speed up the sound on Gilbert's voice to damage his career.  In fact, there was nothing wrong with Gilbert's voice.  The problem lay in poor direction and even worse dialogue.  The audience consistently laughed at the wrong times.  The film flopped as did the careers of those who appeared in it.)  Hill's career staggered on for another five years before she threw in the towel.

In The Montana Kid, Shuford's father is cheated out of his ranch in a crooked card game and is then shot.  All this just as Shuford comes into town to join his father.  Now orphaned, Shuford is taken under Cody's wing as Cody is determined to get the ranch back for the boy.  Plot ensues (or fizzles out, depending on your ability for critical thinking).

The Montana Kid was directed by Harry Fraser, who directed over 80 B movies, most of them westerns, in his career.  Fraser also came up with the original story, but scripting chores went to George A. Durham, a veteran scribe of B westerns.

The film runs just under an hour.  Enjoy.