When an Apache is seen over the dead body of a woman who befriended him, everyone assumes he is guilty. He refuses to speak for himself but the Rangers question his guilt. As part of the jury Joe is ...
Bart Cutler is reported in the area at the same time Jessica Boyd is in Laredo visiting her brother-in-law, Ed Parmalee. Problem is that Bart Cutler is really Frank Parmalee, Ed's dead Civil War hero...
It is the 1870s in Wyoming Territory. Slim Sherman and his 14-year-old brother Andy try to hang on to their ranch after their father is shot by a land grabber. They augment their slight ... See full summary »
Stories of the journeys of a wagon train as it leaves post-Civil War Missouri on its way to California through the plains, deserts, and Rocky Mountains. The first treks were led by gruff, ... See full summary »
The Cannon family runs the High Chaparral Ranch in the Arizona Territory in 1870s. Big John wants to establish his cattle empire despite Indian hostility. He's aided by brother Buck and son... See full summary »
Lawman is the story of Marshal Dan Troop of Laramie, Wyoming and his deputy Johnny McKay, an orphan Troop took under his wing. In the second season Lily Merrill opens The Birdcage Saloon ... See full summary »
Bret and Bart Maverick (and in later seasons, their English cousin, Beau) are well dressed gamblers who migrate from town to town always looking for a good game. Poker (five-card draw) is ... See full summary »
Rustlers, bank robbers, and their own wild schemes: a band of Texas Rangers keeps getting in and out of trouble, under the jaundiced eye of Captain Parmalee. Written by
Enjoyable comedy Western; body-acting genius of William Smith
'Laredo' was a comedy western with Neville Brown as Reese, the clownish Texas Ranger. He is marvelous in the scruffy role, which he throws himself into with complete, crude abandon. The other two Rangers were more along the lines of the glamorous cowboy TV actors of the period--Peter Brown as Chad and William Smith as Joe Riley. Philip Carey plays Captain Parmalee and Robert Wolders, familiar to me otherwise only as the last companion of Audrey Hepburn, comes in for the third season to be a fancy European cowboy.
It is William Smith, the Joe Riley character, who interests me because he is the only actor I have yet seen for whom bodybuilding actually was an asset and lent an extra dimension to the acting (maybe the other, more famous bodybuilders had no acting to which the dimension of bodybuilding could be added, so it looked like bodybuilding usually does--DUMB. Anyway, they don't deserve mention by name even if everybody does know who they are and culture now seems geared to repeating the same names ad infinitum--or ELSE...)
Bobybuilding actually even makes a man unattractive when it is overdone; of course, this sounds like an oxymoron, because the stereotype of the bodybuilder is always something overdone. Smith looks big, but not too big--TOO BIG begins to take on the ugliness of stupidity, and this never happens to him.
Somehow Smith manages this balance in which his acting works in spite of the bodybuilding as well as being enhanced because of it. It has to have something to do with his personality, which is not all that easy to research: you can see the list of films and gather that he came to Hollywood as a child and was an extra in a number of mainstream films like 'Going My Way', 'The Song of Bernadette', and 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn', among others--he is quite visible in the last of these, the neighbor pal of Dorothy McGuire's son, and you see him once in the hallway of the tenement, and again very clearly you see the Smith child's-face in the cemetery crowd toward the end. Later, in his twenties, he has a bright bit part with Debbie Reynolds in 'The Matine Game', and a dazzling flash as an eyeful whom Shirley MacLaine and her galpals mentally devour in a restaurant in 'Ask Any Girl'--in the scene, he is proof of their inability NOT to think about men--EVER. There are a few facts about his life on websites, none of which are well done or in any way exhaustive. This is unfortunate, but probably normal for a B actor who is not a household word, even though he did have a second period of roles in the mainstream in his mid- to late-40's, with 'ay which Way You can' being the prime example (opposite Clint Eastwood; this climaxes in their big fight, which Smith would have won but wasn't A-List so lost, of course--in the way in which the biggest stars didn't get killed in 'The Towering Inferno', etc.) He also appeared as Lonnie "Lucky Man" Johnson, Cronenberg's so-called "lost movie" which has nice performances by Claudia Jennings and John Saxon as well. Much later still, in 1994, James Garner (with whom he had done some work in THE ROCKFORD FILES, singles him out for some well-deserved special homage.)
In the 'Laredo' series you see a character that is not as usually involved with the ladies as are Peter Brown and Robert Wolders. His costumes are excellent for the Western swagger and dazzling smile that are what we easily imagine--or is it demand?--the ideal cowboy to be; and there is a subtle burlesque that occurs only rarely that is interestingly ephimeral and arresting; and is not the overt exhibitionism one sees in 'Bonanza', among other Westerns with their ambitious young actors of the period.
This body-acting was equally effective in the Hell's Angels movies Bill Smith started making in 1969, beginning with Run Angel Run', continuing with such products as 'Angels Die Hard', 'Chrome and Hot Leather,''Nam's Angels,' and 'CC and Company'(in the latter, Joe Namath calls him "Your Majesty--both sarcastically and not sarcastically is my guess--and when Ann-Margret is kidnapped, Smith strokes the delicate white skin of her neck, caressing her beautiful face lightly...two different but very real STARS cross paths...) In these films, the body-acting is so effective that in 'Angels Die Hard', he is even called "boy" by one of the redneck burghers; how often does this happen--and seem convincing--when the "boy" is 35 years old?
Bill Smith is one of my three favourite actors, and has a fabulously colourful and varied career.
The 'Laredo' series has various appeal to different interests, but finding it is not that easy.
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