Friday, July 3, 2015

WENDY LEE in "I Shot Billy the Kid"

I just love my friend Les Adams' description of this low budget oater, one of several produced by and starring Don "Red" Barry for Robert L. Lippert Prod. Writes Les on IMDb:

"This William Berke Productions version of Billy the Kid's saga mixes much fiction, even to the names of all of the New Mexico towns other than one, with few facts but does give non-Producer star Don Barry a chance to show how lovable he can be even when playing a cold-blooded killer. He misses on that point, despite more grinning close-ups than the law should allow, but he is better than Jack Buetel. The film, based on just being a low-budget quickie version of Billy the Kid, aimed at grind-house Saturday matinées, hits that target dead on even if does use endless inserts of Billy or Sheriff Pat Garrett, on horseback, loping along hither and yon to pad the running time.

The real highlight of this one is possibly the single-worse performance ever seen in a B-western in Claude Stroud's portrayal of New Mexico Governor General Lew Wallace. Filled from front-to-back with B-western veterans such as Frank Ellis, Ray Henderson, Jack Perrin (playing a Garret deputy named Mack), and Merrill McCormick (playing a Garrett deputy not-named Mac), and even (brief) archive footage, featuring Bob Cason and Tom Tyler from Ron Ormond's Jimmy Ellison/Russell Hayden series, and excellent camera work by Ernest Miller and Archie Dalzell (one of the few instance of a camera operator actually receiving a screen credit in this period of film history), and editing by Carl Pierson in making the archive footage fit seamlessly, except the one instance of using really-archive footage from a silent film.

Actor/writer Dean Reisner, credited on the film as Dialogue Coach (a job he often performed) must have been out to lunch when the Stroud scenes were filmed."

The girl in the film, little more than a bit really, is one Wendy Lee, who may or may not be the Wendie Lee, who turned up in a few other films at the time, unbilled as "manicurist" or "telephone operator." This Miss Lee sadly died age 45 in 1968.

Wendy Lee with her leading men, Don Barry (r) and Lippert regular Tom Neal.

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