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South of Death Valley (1949)

Passed  |   |  Western  |  8 August 1949 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 41 users  
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Steve Downing, aka The Durango Kid, comes to Nugget City to investigate the murder of his brother-in-law, owner of the Carr Mine. Molly Tavish warns him to leave town or get killed because ... See full summary »



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Title: South of Death Valley (1949)

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Complete credited cast:
Charles Starrett ...
Steve Downey aka The Durango Kid
Gail Davis ...
Molly Tavish
Fred F. Sears ...
Sam Ashton (as Fred Sears)
Lee Roberts ...
Scotty Tavish
Richard Emory ...
Tommy Tavish
Henchman Brad
Tommy Duncan ...
Tommy, Band Leader
Western All Stars ...
Band Members (Guitar, Fiddle, Bass and Steel Guitar)
Smiley Burnette ...


Steve Downing, aka The Durango Kid, comes to Nugget City to investigate the murder of his brother-in-law, owner of the Carr Mine. Molly Tavish warns him to leave town or get killed because her brothers are the leaders of a ranching clan in a conflict against the miners. Sam Ashton, the miner's leaders, starts the rumor that Tommy Tavish killed Steve's relative' then Tommy is killed and Steve's hat is left at the scene of the crime. Steve, with the aid of Smiley BUrnette, breaks jail and, as the Durango Kid, goes after the people who are behind the lawlessness. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Starrett's a two-gun terror! Smiley's a hit tune riot! See more »




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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 August 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

River of Poison  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When You Go
Written by Smiley Burnette
Performed by Smiley Burnette and Tommy Duncan & His Western All-Stars
See more »

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User Reviews

Though a somewhat routine story, other features make this a B western to see
30 October 2005 | by (Van Buren, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

On the surface this is a typical bad guys vs. ranchers B western. In typical Saturday matinée style the outlaws seek to stir up trouble between the ranchers and the miners so they can take control of a rich mine that most folks think is worthless. Enter Steve Downing (Charles Starrett) aka The Durango Kid. Seems his brother-in-law owned the mine in question and has been murdered, supposedly by the cattlemen led by the Tavish siblings. Steve seeks to find the real killer, which leads him to believe there is something in the mine worth possessing. One of the Tavish clan is a lovely lass named Molly played by Gail Davis, who later was TV's Annie Oakley. Gail Davis was a fine actress who could always be counted on for a zesty performance. Naturally she and Steve develop a close relationship of the lady doth protest too much variety. At first Steve appears to fall in with the outlaws led by Sam Ashton (Fred Sears). This is but a ploy to get the goods on the real bandits. Smiley Burnette is around for the laughs, this time playing the none too successful Marshal. His rope humor falls flat and gets tiresome after a time but he does have some other funny scenes, especially in his role as jailer trying to keep Steve behind bars when Steve is framed by Ashton and his henchmen. Smiley also gets to sing one of his better songs "You Can't Take It With You" to an alleged corpse in a casket.

Though routine there are other features that make this Durango Kid outing one to catch. First, the viewers get to see Clayton Moore, yes, the Lone Ranger, as a vicious killer, Ashton's main gun. Then there is a chance to see and hear Tommy Duncan, one of the musical greats of the 40's. He was the lead vocalist for Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, the number one Western Swing band in the nation. His voice can be heard on dozens of Bob Wills hits, such as "San Antonio Rose," "Right or Wrong," and "Time Changes Everything." The viewer also gets to see Steve murdered and return as a ghost to haunt the double-dealing inebriated assayer, played by Jason Robards (Sr).

The title "South of Death Valley" has little if anything to do with the story. The alternate title, "River of Poison," is more applicable since the outlaws poison the spring that comes from the mine and feeds the river the cattlemen use. This is an interesting Durango Kid entry for action fans of the old B westerns.

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