What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This movie is not on my list of essential films.
NOTE: Hello…my name is J-Dub and I’m a blog-a-thon-aholic. It was one year ago when I discovered the phenomena known as a blog-a-thon, and I’ve been hooked ever since. This installment of Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies is being done as part of something called the The Fourth Golden Boy Blogathon: A William Holden Celebration! being hosted By The Wonderful World Of Cinema, The Flapper Dame, and Love Letters To Old Hollywood. My very first blog-a-thon was last year’s centenary celebration of the “Golden Boy,” which was also hosted by by these same three ladies.
If you’ve suffered through any of the stuff I’ve contributed to the 20+ blog-a-thons between now and then, you have these three to blame. I apologize on their behalf. The upside is that with Easter right around the corner, if you’ve read any of those blog-a-thon contributions… or worse yet anything else on Dubsism…in certain Catholic dioceses, that qualifies as penance.
You can see all the participants in this blog-a-thon here:
This is a movie which may have flown under the radar for many classic film fans; it’s a “B” western with surprisingly good, albeit at the time “B” cast. It’s a “deep-dive” for even the most ardent Holden-o-phile as this is movie is in the pre-dawn of his super-stardom. On top of that, “Streets of Laredo” is fairly standard fare for a western. This is especially true of the characters and how they are developed.
That notwithstanding, Macdonald Carey is amazing as the dashing, yet ultimately treacherous “bad guy.” William Holden steals the movie as the “not-so-good guy” hero. William Bendix gets the “Gabby Hayes”-type comic relief role. The icing on the cake is Mona Freeman, who pulls off a “June Allyson meets Grace Kelly” thing. Cobble that all together, put a six-shooter to my head and force me into that “star rating” thing…I’m still giving this movie a solid 4 out of 5.
As far as the movie itself is concerned, “Streets of Laredo” is really all about the relationship between Lorn Reming (played by Macdonald Carey) and Jim Dawkins (played by William Holden). Along with “Wahoo” Jones (played by William Bendix), Lorn and Jim are garden-variety stage coach robbers. Things take a turn when the three decide to come to the aid of Rannie Carter (played by Mona Freeman) after uber-villian Charley Calico (played by Alfonso “We don’t need no stinking badges” Bedoya) kills her uncle in an attempt to land-grab their ranch.
Lorn, Jim, and Wahoo run off Calico. However, this doesn’t stop Calico’s nefariousness. He is unrelenting in his attempts to grow his empire, including the Carter’s ranch. But during this time, two things happen. Rannie begins a metamorphosis from ragamuffin-ish tom-boy to drop-dead stunner, during which you can see the seeds of a potential “love triangle” between her, Lorn, and Jim.
Then, Lorn is separated from Jim and Wahoo. Lorn stick with with outlaw ways, but circumstances drive Jim and Wahoo into aiding the Texas Rangers. As a result, they are sworn in as Rangers, thus placing on the other side of the law from Lorn. Despite that, they still end up working together with Lorn rustling a herd of cattle being guarded by those same Rangers, then lets Jim and Wahoo enhance their reputation by being the ones who bring back the cattle.
To pay back the favor to Lorn, Jim and Wahoo turn a blind eye to his shenanigans, until Calico is killed by the Rangers. Lorn ups the ante by attempting to wrest control of Calico’s criminal enterprise, placing him directly in the cross-hairs of said Rangers. Jim doesn’t really want to hunt down his old friend, so he turns in his badge and returns to his outlaw roots. There’s even a point when after a failed hold-up, Jim digs a bullet out of Lorn at Rannie’s ranch.
Jim finds his way behind bars, but after Lorn guns down Wahoo in cold blood, he makes a deal with Major Bailey of the Rangers to do what he wouldn’t do in the first place…either bring Lorn to justice or kill him. Meanwhile, Rannie has become smitten with Lorn, but she discovers just a wee bit late that he’s a seriously bad guy. She turns to Jim just as he is preparing for the the final showdown with Lorn.
The Hidden Sports Analogy:
You know what they say about loves and blog-a-thons; you never forget your first. I’d been writing Sports Analogies Hidden in Classic Movies for a while…with mixed reviews from my usual sports audience. But then I stumbled across Virginie Pronovost’s blog, and it was one year ago that I submitted my first installment to a blog-a-thon. My initial post was about one of the “Golden Boy’s” Oscar-winning performances; the “wheeler-dealer” and suspected spy J.J. Sefton in Stalag 17.
In that inaugural blog-a-thon piece, I offered the idea that Holden’s Sefton could have been the world’s first big-time sports agent.
To put it simply, had J.J. Sefton not been part of a World War II bomber crew, he had all the characteristics to be a top-flight sports agent. Think about it. The only person J.J. Sefton really cares about is J.J. Sefton, and he will do just about anything as long as it furthers the cause of J.J. Sefton. Can you honestly tell me that doesn’t sound just like a guy who would negotiate a multi-million dollar contract for you…so long as he got 20%?
In “Streets of Laredo,” William Holden’s “Jim Dawkins” is the perfect representation of the other end of sports agency; he is the “Western movie” version of the classic big-time jock who will play for whoever shows him the money. He starts out as a prairie pirate on Macdonald Carey’s team robbing stagecoaches.
Then in a Red Sox-to-Yankees move (think Man City-to-Man U for those of you in the UK), he goes from criminal to becoming a Texas Ranger (the lawmen, not the baseball team). After that move, it takes him no time at all to go from “cowboy cop” to “corrupt cowboy cop” with the cattle-rustling scam he has going with Carey.
In other words, just like most figures in big-time sports, Jim Dawkins really only has loyalty to one person…Jim Dawkins.
The BONUS Hidden Sports Analogy:
Since this is my first “blog-a-thon-iversary,” sticking with the theme established by the earlier mentions of baseball, today’s hidden sports analogy is a double-header.
Every time I watch “Streets of Laredo,” I become more convinced that despite it’s “B” status, this film was intended to make stars out of some people, and William Holden wasn’t one of them. Despite the fact “Lorn Reming” is the villain, that’s the role that gets most of the center-cut shots to show off one’s acting chops. In the same vein, it’s isn’t hard to see the “Rannie Carter” part was supposed to get Mona Freeman promoted from “B-girl” to “leading lady.” On the other hand, the “Jim Dawkins” role could have easily been done by a great number studio contract players…which is basically what Holden was at the time. Outside of the the climactic show-down, the “Jim Dawkins” character really only has to do two things; be more of a “good guy” than “Lorn Reming” and be less of an oaf than “Wahoo Jones.”
While the 1949 movie “Streets of Laredo” and the 1954 Milwaukee Braves baseball team may be separated by five years, they are linked by one rare trait. They both had the blessing/curse of having two rising stars. It’s a blessing because having too much talent is a good problem to have. It’s a curse because as any horse racing aficionado will tell you, it’s tough keeping two quarter horses in one stable. This is why Macdonald Carey and William Holden are the Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron of Hollywood.
The analogy works like this. “Streets of Laredo” featured both Macdonald Carey and William Holden. At this point in their careers, Carey had the “inside rail” to getting starring roles from Paramount, and it’s pretty clear Carey was supposed to be the “star” of this movie. As previously mentioned, all the great acting chops belong to the “Lorn Reming” character and Carey definitely delivered.
It’s just that William Holden flat-out stole this movie.
In similar fashion, the Milwaukee Braves had both Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron. In 1954, Mathews and Aaron are in an analogous position in terms of where they were in their careers. Eddie Mathews is in the Macdonald Carey role; he is supposed to be the Braves’ “star.” Mathews came with the team when they moved from Boston before the 1953 season. In that first year in “Beer City,” Mathews belted 47 home runs and drove in 135 runs and was narrowly beaten out for the National League Most Valuable Player award by Brooklyn Dodger legend Roy Campanella.
But it didn’t take long after Aaron’s arrival in 1954 that things started changing. By 1955, Aaron is leading the National League in doubles, which was a preview of coming attractions. Within two years, Aaron wins the National League Most Valuable Player award by slugging 44 homers, driving in 152, and leading the Braves to their first World Series title by beating the star-studded New York Yankees.
This is the part where all the movie fans know that Holden went on to be cast in 1950’s “Sunset Boulevard.” They also know this is the movie which earned Holden his first Oscar nomination and served as the launching pad for his ascent from “B-movie guy’ to the loftiest ranks of Hollywood royalty. Likewise, the old-school baseball heads know that 1957 marks the de facto beginning of Aaron’s assault on the record books. “Hammerin’ Hank” went on to supplant the biggest baseball royalty ever when he broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record of 714 in 1974.
This also isn’t to say that Mathews and Carey were slouches; far, far from it. It’s no reflection on the brightness of their own stars to say they were eclipsed by two of the brightest to ever shine in their respective skies. Eddie Mathews totaled 512 career home runs and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978. He is also regarded as one the greatest third basemen to ever play the game. To this day, no tandem totaled more homers for one team in their careers than did Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews.
As for Macdonald Carey, it’s fair to say that if some mud-brick like Ward Bond had been given the “Jim Dawkins” role, we all might be participating in the annual “Macdonald Carey Blog-a-Thon.” But Carey’s career didn’t devolve into an exercise of what might have been; in fact he would go on to be known as the “King of the B-movie.” But Carey’s real crowning achievement came when he became the king of American daytime television.
Carey dabbled in television along the way to becoming a B-movie icon, but in 1965 when he took the role of the Horton family patriarch in the soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” television history was about to be made. “Days of Our Lives” is still on the air today, but for the first thirty years of it’s run, Macdonald Carey’s “Dr. Tom Horton” was the central character. This show became so popular that for a time in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Carey enjoyed a recognition level in the United States rivaling that of Walter Cronkite or the President.
If that weren’t enough, the show’s iconic opening and the narration which became part of television history on it’s own was voiced by Carey, and it lived on long after his death in 1994.
Finally, to bring this whole thing “full-circle,” for the movie fans who may not know about Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews, here’s another “deep-dive” into the annals of American television when they faced each other on the 1950s classic “Home Run Derby.”
The Moral of The Story:
Success doesn’t always happen the way you plan it.
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