Sharpe-Lewis/Derringer Productions/Official Films/Peter Rodgers Productions
Original Run: October 1958-June 1959
Before I get into the review of YANCY DERRINGER I’d like to take a few words to explain why I love the Pulp Genre, both Classic and New so much and why I write what has been termed New Pulp. It’s very simple: Pulp is fun. It’s about wild adventures in locales both strange and familiar. It’s about heroes who go about their job of defeating evil without a whole lot of manufactured angst or bullshit drama. It’s got villains of preternatural evil and extraordinary cunning who have designs on nothing less than the domination of the world. It’s got beautiful women, both evil and good who have their own designs and goals. It’s got escapes, captures, fates worse than death and of course…cliffhangers.
Which is why when I was watching YANCY DERRINGER on Amazon Prime all this went through my head because we find ourselves in the middle of a network frenzy of reviving/rebooting old TV shows I dearly wish that somebody would revive YANCY DERRINGER. Because if you’re looking for pure Pulp then YANCY DERRINGER is it. And if it was done right, with respect to the characters and the original material (some work would have to be done on Yancy’s sidekick/bodyguard Pahoo, of course) it would be a wonderful gateway drug into the Pulp genre for modern audiences. But what exactly is YANCY DERRINGER about, you ask?
Yancy Derringer (Jock Mahoney) is what we used to call a gentleman adventurer. He served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and after it was over, wandered the west. He is summoned back to his home in New Orleans by John Colton (Kevin Hagen) the Union Administrator of New Orleans. The city is still under martial law and Colton is charged with restoring the city to it’s former prestige and power. The problem is that there are still Confederate sympathizers openly operating in the city. And criminal elements virtually rule major areas of New Orleans.
Colton makes Yancy an offer; due to the death of Yancy’s father and older brother in the war, he’s heir to his family’s ancestral estates and fortune. Those lands and fortune will be restored to him without reservation if Yancy will agree to operate as Colton’s personal unofficial secret agent, using Yancy’s talents and resources to aid in the reconstruction of New Orleans. Yancy is still highly respected in many levels of New Orleans society, both high and low as a loyal Confederate and moves through both the criminal world and high society with equal ease.
Yancy agrees and so begins a series of increasingly fun and wild adventures as Yancy and his bodyguard/sidekick Pahoo-Ka-Ta-Wah (Wolf Who Stands In Water) proceed to clean up New Orleans. I absolutely love Pahoo (X Brands). Tonto he ain’t. Nothing against Tonto, mind you, but Pahoo is another kind of Indian sidekick. He totes a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun on a leather sling he keeps hidden under a blanket he wears over his right shoulder. And trust me, Pahoo has no problem throwing back that blanket and cutting loose with that shotgun. In fact, there’s very few episodes where Pahoo doesn’t kill at least two or three men with that shotgun or that honkin’ huge throwing knife he keeps sheathed just between his shoulders. And while he clearly can understand English (and probably speaks it better than most of the white people he meets) he communicates only in sign language with Yancy.
Yancy himself dresses like a Kansas City pimp in white suits and frilly white shirts of which he must have fifty of since that’s almost exclusively what he wears. He carries three derringers at all times: one in the crown of his hat (which also saves him from being knocked out on more than one occasion), a four-barreled one in his sash and one up his sleeve. He also has at least three or four knives on him and his cane has a sword in it. He’s renowned for having a punch that can knock a man out for a whole day. Yancy and Pahoo work out of his family plantation, Waverly and occasionally on his riverboat, The Santee. And Jock Mahoney is plainly having the time of his life playing Yancy Derringer. As well he should. Yancy is such a fun character who obviously enjoys his life and his adventures, which is something that immediately drew me to the character. I like to see extraordinary characters appreciating their extraordinary life and not moping around bemoaning why they were burdened with such a life.
Yancy has other allies in his adventures. The one I found the most intriguing is Madame Francine (Frances Bergen, the mother of Candace Bergen) who owns and operates the gambling house/bordello Yancy frequents. There’s also Larry Blake as Turnkey, the jailer who has to lock Yancy up because usually as a result of the havoc he’s caused in cleaning up the town, Colton has to order Yancy jailed at the end of a lot of the episodes. Nobody’s supposed to know Yancy is working for Colton, remember?
The series was created by Richard Sale, one of the most celebrated pulp writers of the 1930s and 40s who also became a film director and screenwriter. In fact, he wrote one of my favorite Charles Bronson movies; “The White Buffalo”. So, it’s no surprise that YANCY DERRINGER has such a strong Pulp feel. If you’re a fan of Pulp, of Westerns or just a good old fashioned Western TV series with great characters and lively, action filled stories then you definitely need to check out YANCY DERRINGER. If you’re an Amazon Prime member and you’re looking for something watch this weekend, give YANCY DERRINGER a try