Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: His Brother's Ghost

Even though this movie is on a DVD set called BILLY THE KID, in addition to being available free in various places on-line, technically it’s not a Billy the Kid movie . . . although it might as well be. After the series PRC did with Bob Steele and Fuzzy St. John, Buster Crabbe was brought in to play Billy in more than a dozen more of these cheaply and swiftly produced B-Westerns. However, “Billy” wasn’t always Billy the Kid. Sometimes he was just generic cowboy hero Billy Carson, and that’s the case in HIS BROTHER’S GHOST.

Most of the movie is pretty much the same, though. Charles King is the bad guy who’s trying to run off all the small ranchers so he can take over. Fuzzy steals the show with his slapstick, cartoonish antics. (Note that I don’t use the words “slapstick” and “cartoonish” in any sort of pejorative manner. I like that stuff.) Buster does a lot of riding around, throws the occasional punch, and shoots the gun out of a bad guy’s hand.

Actually, there are a couple of things that do make this entry a little different. When the movie opens, Al St. John is playing a rancher named Andy Jones who falls victim to the raiders. But as he’s dying (a long and drawn-out death scene, by the way, which gives St. John a chance to do some fairly effective dramatic acting), he reveals that he has a twin brother. Billy Carson has the idea of bringing in the brother—who turns out to be Fuzzy Q. Jones, of course—and having him pretend to be his brother’s ghost (hence the title) and spook the villains into overplaying their hand. In the course of this, we learn Fuzzy’s real name: Jonathan.

HIS BROTHER’S GHOST is fun, but overall I think I prefer the ones with Bob Steele. His Billy the Kid seems to have more personality than Buster Crabbe’s Billy the Kid/Billy Carson, who’s pretty bland. I’d have to watch more of them to be sure, though. But not right away, I think. As much as I enjoy him, I think I’m about Fuzzied out for now.

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