Thursday, July 14, 2011
Donna Hamilton (Gunmen of Abilene)
The main reason that Republic's Rocky Lane series remains so popular with fans today is the nearly non-stop action and overall no-nonsense approach to B-Western film-making. All the Republic expertize is on display in these little oaters and hero Allan Lane is at all time surrounded by the best talent the company could provide. Which was considerable and included the always popular, and always hissable, Mr. Roy Barcroft. Even Rocky's sidekick, Eddy Waller, is more than tolerable, his comedic antics, such as they were, never slowing the flow of things. Needless to say, feminine allure was kept to a minimum; in fact, some Rocky Lanes dispensed with pulchritude entirely. In Gunmen of Abilene (1950), Miss Donna Hamilton achieves the customary high billing (fourth in this case, following Lane, Waller and Barcroft) but appears only briefly in four scenes. Mainly to accompany a small boy (Duncan Richardson) going by the usual B-Western tyke name of “Dickie.” Dickie's familial relations are a bit murky, at least to this viewer. He calls Waller “Gramps” and Hamilton “Aunt,” and the latter is apparently Waller's niece. All of which matters little to the overall plot, which has evil general store proprietor Peter Brocco attempting to rid himself of the townspeople in general and Sheriff Waller in particular because there are valuable minerals in them thar hills. Gunmen of Abilene proved Donna Hamilton's only film role of any importance. Reportedly discovered by Joan Crawford (!), Hamilton was a Goldwyn Girl before signing with 20th Century-Fox. She did the usual leg-work for that company and was promoted as “The Kiss Girl” and performing a walk-on in the June Haver musical I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now (1947). That, alas, was the highlight of Miss Hamilton's screen career. Until Gunmen of Abilene. If you could call a minor role in a Rocky Lane Western a highlight.