To quote Inspector Clouseau, “Ze Meestery ees Solv-ed.”
For years I have been trying to find out the name of the movie I saw as a kid in which one of the characters is killed with a rake. It was a western filmed in Technicolor and I saw it in a theater when I was around eight or nine years old. You don’t see the actual murder on screen. You see the aftermath. There’s just an image of a bloody rake leaning against a wall covered in blood. I still remember the vividness of that red-stained rake. up there on the big screen.
I saw a lot of movies growing up. Some you remember most you forget but that was one movie that has haunted me since childhood. But I could never find out the name of it or who was in it. One time I posted this matter on my Facebook page, asking if anyone out there had ever seen it. Nobody had. It became like an obsession. I googled all the key words I could think of. Went on IMDb and searched all over on “rake” “death by rake,” “bloody rake.” Came up with nothing.
My quest to find this movie became something of Ahab-like proportions. The bloody red rake became my White Whale. I even went so far as to go on Martin Scorsese’s Facebook page and asked if he or anyone had ever heard of it. I’ve heard he knows everything about almost every movie ever made. Marty didn’t answer. I wonder if he really posts there anyway. I began to wonder if I had ever even really seen this flick. Maybe I just dreamed it or something. But then one of his Facebook fans responded by saying he didn’t know but I should check with a blog called 50 Westerns from the Fifties.
And so I did. 50 Westerns is a blog run by a fellow named Toby Roan who is a superfan and probably expert on western films from the fifties. He’s writing a book on one of my favorite westerns “One Eyed Jacks,” starring and directed by Marlon Brando. His blog is loaded with stories and pictures from some of the great westerns made between 1950-60. If you’re a fan of that period of western film making you have to check it out.
And now I can finally report that someone there did know the movie with the bloody rake. At long last The Hunt is over. Drum roll, please. And so without further ado: The name of the film is “Streets of Laredo” (1949) with William Holden and MacDonald Carey. It’s a remake of “The Texas Rangers” (1936) with Fred MacMurray. It’s a rarely-seen movie that doesn’t seem to show up on TV very often. IMDb doesn’t even have a poster or picture for it. But a DVD is available through some of the more off-beat channels of distribution.
Now I can rest easy. I used to feel like the man with the long beard who was asked if he slept with his beard inside or outside the covers and after that could never sleep again trying to figure out which way his beard went. Now I can get a good night’s sleep. I don’t have to keep thinking about that damned bloody rake.
Although, now, I wonder how long it will take me to track down the DVD?