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(Courtesy of Randy Laing)
Left are Elliott and pretty Iris Meredith in OVERLAND WITH KIT CARSON (Columbia, 1939), his second cliffhanger.

By this time, Elliott had switched the holsters, so his sixguns were in the butt forward position.

Pegleg's gang, the Black Raiders, have Bill cornered again in OVERLAND WITH KIT CARSON (Columbia, 1939).

Les Adams was able to identify Tex Palmer as the masked raider on the left with his hand on Elliott's arm.

(From Old Corral image collection)

By then, the pearl handles disappeared and the Hickok guns were back. Rex Allen once commented that he had wanted to be different from all his cowboy predecessors, which was why he wore a stag-handled pistol butt forward. "And then I found out that Billy Elliott did it twenty years before", he laughed. Interestingly, neither Bill or Rex resorted to a cross-draw, but would turn their gunhands around so as to jerk their pistols from the same side they were drawing from, and then flip the pistols around to drop them back in their holsters. Those butt-forward stag-handled pistols would remain Elliott's trademark for most of his career, starting with a feature called TAMING OF THE WEST (1939) in which he plays a hero called Wild Bill Saunders.

Elliott repeats the Saunders role in PIONEERS OF THE FRONTIER, THE MAN FROM TUMBLEWEEDS and RETURN OF WILD BILL (all 1940), all climaxing in blazing shootouts and featuring a young comic sidekick played by Dub Taylor. Cannonball Taylor would later support singing cowboy Jimmy Wakely at Monogram and go on to become a popular character actor, and father of actor Buck Taylor.



(From Old Corral image collection)
From L-to-R are Elliott, Dick Curtis and Linda Winters in PIONEERS OF THE FRONTIER (Columbia, 1940).

For a closeup of Elliott's gun and holster set, click HERE.  Again, note the bullet loops above the holster.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Elliott and baddie Dick Curtis (without his moustache) locked in one of their many cinematic death struggles at Columbia Pictures. Elliott would go through a costume modification, giving up on the 'storm flap' shirt shown above to a buckskin and fringe shirt as shown below.



(From Old Corral image collection)


With PRAIRIE SCHOONERS (1940), Columbia dropped the Saunders gimmick and turned Elliott into Wild Bill Hickok again, giving him a buckskin shirt to replace the square-button decor of the Saunders outfit. The paint horse, the reversed guns and Cannonball remained, continuing through BEYOND THE SACRAMENTO (1940), ACROSS THE SIERRAS, NORTH FROM THE LONE STAR, WILDCAT OF TUCSON and HANDS ACROSS THE ROCKIES (all 1941). Some of the real-life Hickok touched lightly on two of these. In ACROSS THE SIERRAS, Hickok accidentally guns down his best friend. The real Hickok actually did shoot a fellow lawman who was running to his aid when he and a gambler named Phil Coe shot it out in Dodge City, after which Hickok's career as a lawman came to an end. NORTH FROM THE LONE STAR takes place in Deadwood, where the recently-married Hickok had gone to seek gold but instead got a bullet in the back from Jack McCall, none of which happened in the movie, of course. Two small departures were taken during this series, with Elliott playing Bill Boone in RETURN OF DANIEL BOONE and Dave Crockett in SON OF DAVY CROCKETT, but the format for both was exactly the same except for the hero's name.



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