"Each man has a song and this is my song." (Leonard Cohen)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Davy Crockett, Indian Scout (UA, 1950)


Davy Crockett scouting for a wagon train in 1848?


 
 
Davy Crockett, as any schoolboy knows, died at the Alamo in 1836. It’s a bit odd, therefore, to find him in this movie scouting for a wagon train out West in 1848. But George Montgomery, who impersonates Crockett, says, twenty minutes or so in, that he would like to go to Washington to help the Indians, like his famous uncle, the Davy Crockett. Ah.
 
This Davy has a sidekick (they were obligatory in those days) and this one is very Tonto-esque. It’s the well-known Cherokee Philip Reed - you know, Uncas in the Randolph Scott Last of the Mohicans. He’d also been an Indian in Daughter of the West in 1949. He was to be Joaquin Murietta just after being Davy Crockett’s pard. Anyway.

This movie was an Edward Small production. These are always hilarious because they begin with the most gigantic logo you could imagine, shouting SMALL at you in towering letters. I imagine Mr. Small to be a little bald man. Like Donald Meek. I’m sure he wasn’t but he ought to have been.
 
Edward Small
 
Another of his productions was the entertaining Kit Carson in 1940 (with Dana Andrews as Frémont) and round about the end of Davy Crockett, Indian Scout you realize that it’s the same plot and they have used the same stock footage.
 
A giant Small
 
There’s loads of skullduggery because there’s a spy for the Kiowa in the wagon train, letting the Indians know secretly where the train and its escort will be and when. Who could it be? There’s a mysterious schoolteacher (Ellen Drew, the female lead in the 1939 Geronimo and also in The Man from Colorado, when she married Glenn Ford but really wanted William Holden; in Davy Crockett she is as beautiful as ever though rather less vivacious) who arrives in a wagon chased by Indians, yet her horses are strangely fresh. Odd, that. She has a deaf-mute driver (Paul Guilfoyle) who seems to understand when people speak. Mmmm.
 
Montgomery & Drew
 
Noah Beery Jr. is a cheery scout in a coonskin cap, a pal of Davy’s. I wondered if he could be the spy for a moment but no. Perish the thought. Funny that he should have the coonskin cap while Davy wears a Stetson.

They re-released it when Disney’s Davy Crockett with Fess Parker was all the rage, which was a bit cheeky as it wasn’t even the same Davy Crockett. But on the re-release they gave “a free Davy Crockett badge to all kiddies.” Wish I'd got one.
 
 
George Montgomery (1916 – 2000) was in fifty-eight B-Westerns between 1935 and 1969 and some TV shows (he was Mayor Matt Rockford in all those Cimarron City episodes). And one spaghetti. He was only ever alright. He is competent as Davy Crockett Jr., I guess, thought does not set the prairies on fire.

One good thing: Ray Teal is in it. For about twenty seconds. But he's there.

Not exactly a must-see, Davy Crockett, Indian Scout is for ardent Crockett fans only and, in fact, as it does not feature that Davy, not even for them. Oh well.

 
 

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