Like a Mighty Cannonball; or, Can’t Stay Away from the Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns

This Thanksgiving, in between shots of rotgut rye, I gave thanks to all the gods and goddesses of the western world that Flapjack42 has the epic psychic strength to haul the universe into righteousness with the continuing countdown of the top-ten list of the absolute worst animal-as-hero westerns EVER.

  • Confused by life? Don’t be. Be confused by these movies.
  • Got rotten luck? Be assured that your luck will never be as rotten as these movies’ plots.
  • Need a reason to be thankful for this holiday season? Flapjack42 deserves the big end of the turkey’s wishbone because Flapjack42 sees these bad movies SO WE DON’T HAVE TO! Worth gold.

--Bucko

And now, from Flapjack42, trusty bad movie sidekick extraordinaire!

#3  Champion the Wonder Horse (1955, a serial) HERO: Champion III and Blaze

Big yawn. The boy has a cool horse, a hog-fat sorrel with lots of chrome. The ten-year-old kid rides him with no saddle or bridle. Right. I can see the hidden jaw rope. The theme music sounds like it was written by the horse. Then it sounds like Marty Robbins’s horse wrote it. (hey–Marty Robbins rocks! But the song might be sung by Frankie Laine–B)

“Stay here,” the hero bellows to the kid as he rides to catch the bad guy, who happened to steal the hero’s pinto. Tension music…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the kid goes on to rescue whatever. Maybe it’s Dr. Terwilliger, who has a psychotic attachment with his ventiloquist dummy, an attachment shared by the bad guy. (music builds until Flapjack42 gives us the real reason why we read Joseph Cambell–to make sense of this rats’ nest. See below. –B)

Dr. Terwilliger’s ventriloquist dummy represents the dilemma of social order and the continuing difficulties of maintaining social ties. This mouthy little puppet spouts a Great Truth, along with insults and demands. This movie ends as Dr. Terwilliger finds out that his puppet is more valuable than he thought, the boy gets Champion the Blunder Horse back, the hero gets to punch out the bad guys and gets his pinto back, and the dog Rebel gets to rip up a villain’s arm. (whoot! and I get my novel published! –B)

WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION: Where else can you find Dr. Terwilliger and his Secret Tonic of Monteezuma?

HOW I LIKED THIS MOVIE: Pass the bottle.

I’ll drink to that. What just happened? Why is a ventriloquist’s dummy in a western? Why does the wind blow? Who cares? Just watch the damn video. And sing, sing sing!

Champion the Wonder Horse! Champion the Wonder Horse!
Like a streak of lightnin’ flashin’ cross the sky,
Like the swiftest arrow whizzin’ from a bow,
Like a mighty cannonball he seems to fly.
You’ll hear about him ever’where you go.
The time’ll come when everyone will know
The name of Champion the Wonder Horse!

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2 comments to Like a Mighty Cannonball; or, Can’t Stay Away from the Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns

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