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The end of the trail.

4/10
Author: dinky-4 from Minneapolis
14 July 2002

By 1950 the multi-chapter serial had about come to the end of its run, hastened by the spread of television. Thus there's a tired, worn-out quality to "Cody." Little of the verve and excitement of earlier serials is present here and the cast members don't seem to have their heart in their work. All of them are simply going through the motions.

On another level of criticism, "Cody" suffers from the structural defect of having two heroes. Dickie Moore plays the title character. In the opening narration it's explained that young "Cody" -- now a lowly Pony Express rider -- will eventually grow up to become the famous Buffalo Bill Cody, but nothing is made of this revelation. It might as well have been "Smith of the Pony Express."

Jock Mahoney plays an army lieutenant who's assigned to protect the Pony Express. He makes a more suitable serial-hero than does Moore but rarely gets a chance to dominate the action. His character and Moore's are too often Siamese-twinned together even though there's no compelling reason they should be a team. They lack "chemistry." Also, Mahoney's given no chance to show off his chest. He was in his prime here, about 30 years old, and one wishes a way could have been found to get him out of that buckskin shirt. (Mahoney's impressive physique received plenty of exposure in his two Tarzan movies but by then he was in early 40's.)

Peggy Stewart has nothing to do as the heroine. She and Mahoney pair off in the final scene but there's never any sense of a romance growing up between them. George J. Lewis makes an obvious and uncharismatic villain.

Despite the open space afforded by a western setting, "Cody" has a cramped sort of feeling, with virtually all of the action shifting back and forth between a Pony Express relay station and the nearby town. This was probably done as an economic decision -- as was the use of b&w photography -- but it lessens the overall result.

For the record, here are the titles of the serial's 15 chapters: #1 Cody Carries the Mail, #2 Captured by Indians, #3 Cody Saves a Life, #4 Cody Follows a Trail, #5 Cody to the Rescue, #6 The Fatal Arrow, #7 Cody Gets His Man, #8 Renegade Raiders, #9 Frontier Law, #10 Cody Tempts Fate, #11 Trouble at Silver Gap, #12 Cody Comes Through, #13 Marshal of Nugget City, #14 Bolt from the Sky!, #15 Cody's Last Ride.

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