Tycoon Van Fleet Stooglehammer, owner of the Green Valley silver mine, sends his mild-mannered, milquetoast bookkeeper, Spade Cooley, out to investigate the robberies of his silver-wagons ...
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Tycoon Van Fleet Stooglehammer, owner of the Green Valley silver mine, sends his mild-mannered, milquetoast bookkeeper, Spade Cooley, out to investigate the robberies of his silver-wagons being pulled off by a masked-man, riding a golden palomino, known as the Silver Bandit. Spade, who can't ride or fight and can barely sing, still makes an impression on Molly Doren, sister of Frank Doren, superintendent of the mine, and makes an enemy of Sam Morrell, the mine manager. Spade suspects either Frank of Sam as being the Silver Bandit, but the sheriff, figuring nobody could be as inept as Spade, has his eye on Spade...especially after he nabs Spade riding...uh...trying to ride the bandit's horse and wearing his costume. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Spade Cooley (whose nickname referred to his protuberant lips) had a semi-successful career as a singing cowboy, a sort of downmarket Roy Rogers performing on radio and television. (He even got mentioned in an episode of Jackie Gleason's 'Honeymooners'.) Cooley's minimal talent soon lost momentum: by the early 1950s he was washed up on the air waves, and hoping to star in cowboy movies. He made three dire oaters and then called it a day. In 1961, the hot-tempered Cooley beat and tortured his wife so severely that she died, and he was convicted of murdering her. As with Tom Neal (another homicidal actor who wasn't much of an actor), a morbid fascination hangs over Cooley's films, purely due to the real-life tragedy.
'The Silver Bandit' is the second (and probably worst) of his three starring vehicles. This is one of those cheapjack stories with a masked villain, a device which enables a stunt double to do all the fighting and riding without the audience catching wise that he's a double. Cooley portrays the meek clerk of the silver mine, whose mettle is tested when he must catch the bandit. That's a really bad decision, because Cooley is such an inept actor that it's a bad idea to have him playing a feckless character who calls attention to his own naffness. This entire movie appears to have been filmed on a budget of about two bits and a plugged nickel, except that the Silver Bandit owns a hand-tooled Bohlin saddle that had me green with envy. In fact, I kept watching the saddle leathers instead of this movie, because the saddle was a lot more interesting. The songs in this semi-musical western are ineptly performed by Cooley and Ginny Jackson. And this movie features the only silver mine I've ever seen that's located BELOW the timber line; in real life, silver ore is usually found above high timber.
Sadly, 'The Silver Bandit' is so bad, it doesn't even manage to be enjoyable on a campy level. I'll rate this movie precisely one point, for that Bohlin.
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