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Buster's Best at PRC

All of our cowboy movie heroes did some good films and some not so good. My choices for the best of Crabbe's PRC oaters are:

Best of the bunch:
HIS BROTHER'S GHOST (1945) (Dual role for Al 'Fuzzy' St. John)

Pretty good westerns:
BILLY THE KID TRAPPED (1942)
LAW AND ORDER (1942) (Dual role for Crabbe)
DEVIL RIDERS (1943)
WILD HORSE PHANTOM (1944)
RUSTLER'S HIDEOUT (1944)
PRAIRIE RUSTLERS (1945) (Dual role for Crabbe)
GANGSTER'S DEN (1945)
STAGECOACH OUTLAWS (1945)
TERRORS ON HORSEBACK (1946)


Buster's Gunbelts at PRC

On the left are two of his earlier gunbelts. Note how deep the six-gun fits into the holster in the bottom image on the left. Great for securing the pistol, but not good for a fast draw.

On the right is Buster's later black gunbelt circa 1945 - note the light colored bullet loops.


His "Uniform" at PRC

In these webpages on Crabbe, there's a variety of stills and lobby cards showing his PRC range costumes - he wore mostly light colored hats but his shirts varied from light to dark colors with some having a checkerboard pattern. Sometimes his shirt had drawstrings at the collar and sometimes he wore a bandana / neckerchief.

The one bit of consistency was the chin/jaw strap on his hat.

On pages 211 - 212 in Karl Whitezel's book, Buster Crabbe, A Self Portrait, Crabbe mentions that "I never liked having my hat blow off my head when riding a horse. It was a lot of trouble during a chase scene to have to stop, go back for the hat, then reshoot the scene. The jaw strap saved time and trouble."

Below - early range wear
Above - later uniform



(Courtesy of Les Adams)
The Dual Roles at PRC

Left - Crabbe versus Crabbe in a photo from the pressbook for PRAIRIE RUSTLERS. This was his fourth and last dual role during his 36 film Billy the Kid/Billy Carson series at PRC.

The four dual role films were:
LAW AND ORDER (1942)
SHERIFF OF SAGE VALLEY (1942)
THE DRIFTER (1944)
PRAIRIE RUSTLERS (1945)


Al 'Fuzzy' St. John and Buster


(From Old Corral image collection)

Some folks recall the partnership of Al 'Fuzzy' St. John and Lash LaRue as being Fuzzy's best western film work. I disagree and suggest that St. John's finest moments - or at least his meatiest roles - occurred in the PRCs with Buster Crabbe.

With Buster, he got a lot of screen time, meaning a significant quantity of dialog as well as comedy bits. Examples: he does his old vaudeville bicycle riding routine in PRAIRIE RUSTLERS (1945 PRC), and is back on his bike In THE DRIFTER (PRC, 1944); there was the secret mine and the devil bats in WILD HORSE PHANTOM (PRC, 1944); and Fuzzy knocks out Buster at the end of PRAIRIE BADMEN (PRC, 1946). St. John got even more screen time in FUZZY SETTLES DOWN (PRC, 1944) and HIS BROTHER'S GHOST (PRC, 1945).

If you like Fuzzy, give Crabbe some credit. As the star, he had to be supportive of St. John's expanded sidekick duties. If he was not pleased, I'm sure he could have gotten PRC's production team to reduce Fuzzy's role.


Buster Crabbe's horses at PRC

There were at least three different hosses that Crabbe rode in his PRC oaters.

Horse #1 below was Buster's primary horse named Falcon during his 36 westerns for PRC. But he did ride several other horses. In Karl Whitezel's book Buster Crabbe, A Self Portrait, Crabbe said that he and Al 'Fuzzy' St. John picked out their steeds at one of the rental stables in the San Fernando Valley, but he doesn't mention which stable.

I recently viewed the Eddie Dean CHECK YOUR GUNS (PRC, 1948). In that film, Dean is riding his palomino White Cloud - and the horse has the same face blaze as Crabbe hoss #1 along with the same brand on the left shoulder. Lash LaRue turns up riding this horse in the Eddie Dean starrer WILD WEST (PRC, 1946). And James Newill called his horse Alamo in the Texas Rangers trio series. Recently spotted Newill on this hoss in THE RANGERS TAKE OVER (PRC, 1942), GUNS OF THE LAW (PRC, 1944), SPOOK TOWN (PRC, 1944) and BRAND OF THE DEVIL (PRC, 1944).




(From Old Corral image collection)

Horse #1 - Buster's primary Falcon

Above and below - Buster Crabbe and trusty steed 'Falcon' (which confusingly shows up as white and palomino colors).

Buster's primary Falcon has the long face blaze which extends to a thin stripe down into the nose area. That horse also has a left shoulder brand as shown below.



I'm still re-watching Crabbe Billy the Kid/Billy Carson films, and have completed viewing over two dozen of his 36 PRC oaters. It looks like Buster is riding this particular horse in:

BILLY THE KID TRAPPED (PRC, 1942)
SHERIFF OF SAGE VALLEY (PRC, 1942)
THE KID RIDES AGAIN (PRC, 1943
FUGITIVE OF THE PLAINS (PRC, 1943)
WESTERN CYCLONE (PRC, 1943)
BLAZING FRONTIER (PRC, 1943)
DEVIL RIDERS (PRC, 1943)
FRONTIER OUTLAWS (PRC, 1944)
RUSTLER'S HIDEOUT (PRC, 1944); can see the brand
WILD HORSE PHANTOM (PRC, 1944); can see the brand
OATH OF VENGEANCE (PRC, 1944); can see the brand
HIS BROTHER'S GHOST (PRC, 1945); can see the brand
SHADOWS OF DEATH (PRC, 1945)
GANGSTER'S DEN (PRC, 1945)
FUZZY SETTLES DOWN (PRC, 1945); can see the brand
STAGECOACH OUTLAWS (PRC, 1945); can see the brand
BORDER BADMEN (PRC, 1945)
PRAIRIE RUSTLERS (PRC, 1945)
GENTLEMEN WITH GUNS (PRC, 1946); can see the brand
GHOST OF HIDDEN VALLEY (PRC, 1946); can see the brand
OVERLAND RIDERS (PRC, 1946)
OUTLAWS OF THE PLAINS (PRC, 1946); can see the brand




The palomino Falcon is relatively easy to identify by the thin, longish white face blaze which extends down between the nostrils. This horse also had a brand on its left front shoulder near the stirrup (shown below).



(From Old Corral image collection)

The above image of Buster and Falcon was also used in the lobby card below. I did view GHOST OF HIDDEN VALLEY (PRC, 1946) when I was preparing this webpage and Crabbe is definitely riding the palomino Falcon with that long face blaze. I have no idea why Falcon shows up as a white steed in this lobby card. Check the brand on the left shoulder (crop/blowup of the brand shown below).


(From Old Corral image collection)



Above is a crop/blowup of the brand from the B&W image above. Anyone recognize the owner of the brand? Interestingly, I wasn't able to see this brand on Falcon on several of the films, though the horse was easily recognized by that slender face blaze. Did they cover the brand in some of the films ... or was the brand not present until the later adventures?




(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Horse #2

In one or two of his early PRC westerns including his first, BILLY THE KID WANTED (PRC, 1941), Crabbe rode "White Hoss #1 - The horse with a mottled face and many names" which is profiled in the Trusty Steeds - Movie Horses section. That horse came from the Fat Jones stable. Wonder if his later palomino Falcon also came from Fat Jones?



Horse #3


Above - Buster riding a different palomino in a scene from one of his last PRC westerns, PRAIRIE BADMEN (PRC, 1946).



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