Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jacqueline White (Riders of the Range)

Jacqueline White, as she told writers Boyd Magers and Michael Fitzgerald in their fine “Westerns Women” (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1999), only worked for two studios her entire screen career, M-G-M and RKO. A local Beverly Hills girl (born 1922), White did the usual starlet duties at Metro, including appearing in potboilers with Dr Kildare, Maisie and Laurel & Hardy, but in the end she earned much better opportunities later at RKO, where she co-starred in the seminal films noir Crossfire (1947) and The Narrow Margin (1952). By the time the latter was finally released, however, she had left films in favor of marriage to an oil man in Wyoming.

Riders of the Range (RKO, 1950)

When we first encounter Jacqueline White in Riders of the Range, she is tearing into Reed Hadley's saloon looking for her wayward brother (Robert Clarke) and wearing a very mannish western outfit. A veritable wildcat, who calls Mr. Hadley a “greasy, slick-fingered, mealy-mouthed card shark,” and then proceeds to whip him within an inch of his life. Yet despite all that, the next time we come across the lady she is demurely serving breakfast for Tim Holt, his sidekick Richard Martin and brother Bob. All of which is typical Western movie, B or otherwise. A girl may at first appear to be completely emancipated but in reality she is really more concerned with serving platefuls of flapjacks. But for all that is is clear that Jacqueline is no ordinary B-Western gal; acting-wise she's quite a bit above the usual prairie flower and here she also benefits from an equally good performance by Robert Clarke as the brother. As Ms. White told writers Magers and Fitzgerald, both she and Clarke had toiled for RKO but were now freelancing when re-hired by the Howard Hughes people for Riders of the Range. You cannot fault this fine Tim Holt series, which only got better and better as the years went by and actually reached its zenith under Hughes' ownership of RKO. This entry in the series, in addition to the overall good performances (including Tom Tyler as an aging Ringo Kid), was filmed at the Garner Ranch near Palm Springs, CA, a scenic departure from the overly familiar rocks of the Iverson movie locations.

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