The Kid from Amarillo Lobby Card

Texas cowboys as depicted by Hollywood

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by Kathryn Siefker, Associate Curator of Exhibition Content

Movie posters don’t have to be big to pack a punch.

Take, for example, this poster for the 1951 film The Kid from Amarillo. Its petite size (14"w x 11"h) adds to its charm. Enticing patrons with colorful artwork and the movie’s prominent actors, it’s the title piece in a set of eight posters referred to as lobby cards. The set would have included seven other cards featuring action-packed scenes from the movie for display in the theater lobby.

Largely shaped by the B-Western movie genre popular in the 1930s and 40s, Hollywood’s depiction of the Texas cowboy has influenced international perceptions of the state. Starring successful actors/musicians like Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, or Roy Rogers, B-Westerns were filmed quickly on shoestring budgets. Intended to be part of a matinee double feature, the movies frequently had an average run time of just over an hour. Fast-paced, action-packed plots set in Texas revolved around a young cowboy hero who triumphs before the movie ends. The predominantly male genre confined women to damsels in distress while casting American Indians and Tejanos as sidekicks or villains.

A Columbia Pictures film, The Kid from Amarillo is one of hundreds of films in the B-Western genre. In it, treasury agent Steve Ransom (played by Charles Starrett) is asked to investigate a group of smugglers along the Mexico-Texas border. Ransom and his sidekick Smiley (Smiley Burnette) traverse the 500 miles from the Texas Panhandle to the border, ending at the ranch of the smuggling gang leader. Costs were truly kept to a minimum in this brief, 56 minute film. Stock footage from other movies, such as chase scenes on horses, is used throughout the film, and there are no women in the cast at all.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

The Kid from Amarillo Lobby Card Artifact from Austin, Texas
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