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Columbia tried a pairing that proved immensely popular. It teamed Elliott with singing cowboy Tex Ritter, both established western leads by this time. Ritter had just concluded a long run of singing cowboy westerns for producer Ed Finney, initially released through Grand National and later, by Monogram. Eight Elliott-Ritter films were released in 1941 - 1942, and the usual gimmick would start them out misunderstanding one another's motives and seeming to be enemies, but always ending up fighting it out with the outlaws together in the finale. KING OF DODGE CITY and ROARING FRONTIERS were the first two film collaborations of Elliott and Ritter, and were released in 1941.

The only other change was that Frank Mitchell assumed the sidekick duties from Dub Taylor. Taylor exited the Elliott films to become the helper to Russell Hayden, the former Hopalong Cassidy pal, who was getting his own series at Columbia. Later still at Columbia Pictures, Dub Taylor was the saddle pal to Charles Starrett.



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from L-to-R are Tex Ritter, Dub 'Cannonball' Taylor and Bill Elliott in KING OF DODGE CITY (Columbia, 1941), the first of the Elliott-Ritter series at Columbia. After this film, Taylor would become the saddle pal to former Hoppy sidekick Russell Hayden who was in a new series at Columbia.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Judith Linden, Tex Ritter and Elliott in a lobby card from the initial pairing of the two western film heroes, KING OF DODGE CITY (Columbia, 1941).  Click HERE for a closeup of Elliott's gunbelt --- note that the belt is different from earlier versions as the bullet loops above the holsters are no longer present.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are new sidekick Frank Mitchell, Joe McGuinn and Elliott in a lobby card from ROARING FRONTIERS (Columbia, 1941).


The 1942 releases began with LONE STAR VIGILANTES, followed by BULLETS FOR BANDITS, in which Elliott shoots it out with himself, in a dual role, and then impersonates the man he killed to help Tex slug it out with the baddies. He doesn't reveal himself as Hickok until it's all over, adding his by-now traditional caveat about being a peaceable man. Yeah, Tex drawls. I've been noticin' that. Elliott played Hickok twice more, in THE DEVIL'S TRAIL and PRAIRIE GUNSMOKE. In the other two Elliott-Ritter flicks, Elliott played a Mountie in NORTH OF THE ROCKIES and Mexican legend Joaquin Murietta (the only time he added the small mustache that had marked his early roles) in VENGEANCE OF THE WEST. Columbia used Elliott one last time in a third serial, VALLEY OF VANISHING MEN, in which he played Wild Bill Tolliver.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Dick Curtis, the moustached Wild Bill Elliott, sidekick Frank Mitchell (standing), Tex Ritter and an unidentified player in a scene from VENGEANCE OF THE WEST (Columbia, 1942), the weakest of the eight Elliott-Ritter adventures. In this one, Elliott played Joaquin Murietta and escapes at the end thanks to Ranger Tex.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Bill Elliott starred in three serials at Columbia Pictures, and the above lobby card shows Wild Bill and Carmen Morales in his final Columbia chapterplay, THE VALLEY OF VANISHING MEN (Columbia, 1942). That was also Elliott's last cliffhanger. Soon after making VANISHING MEN, Elliott signed with Republic Pictures where his contract excluded him from doing any more serial work.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Elliott, George 'Slim' Summerville, Roy Barcroft, and Robert Fiske in a scene from Elliott's last serial, THE VALLEY OF VANISHING MEN (Columbia, 1942). A year or so later, both Elliott and Barcroft would be under contract to Republic Pictures.



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