"Each man has a song and this is my song." (Leonard Cohen)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Revolution (Warner Bros, 1985)


Not really a Western but it passes muster




 
 
Revolution isn’t a Western. Still, The Last of the Mohicans is reviewed on this site and we are taking a broad view of what constitutes a Western. Then, Al Pacino does tell his son at the end to go West and make a new life. He and the boy have fought for the freedom to make their own way and follow the freedom trail. So that’s quite Western.

But really, it’s just a war film in tricorn hats.

It isn’t extremely good, though. Some of the reviews at the time were scathing but I think they were perhaps a little unfair. Maybe. The film does try to show the chaos of war, the accidental nature of it all. The dirt and casual brutality are there. It has been well said that any war film is an anti-war film and this is certainly the case here.

I do like the way that dark, intense music is laid over the extreme events, whether they be brutal battles or revels at a prize fight.  It distances us, somehow, from the action and allows us to observe it. The music is by John Corigliano. Some of the Bernard Lutic photography is impressive too and catches the eye. Curiously, the locations for the American Revolution fighting were in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Dartmoor, UK. Odd. Usually they shoot in Canada.

As for the acting, well, Nastassja Kinski plays the female lead so that’s a plus point already. She is from a posh Tory family and becomes a revolutionary partisan, a true believer, like a Red Guard or something. Al Pacino is the hero and he moderates his Noo Yoik accent very well, essaying an 18th century dialect. Sadly, the same can’t be said of Donald Sutherland, as chief Brit baddy, who attempts a north country British accent with, sorry, dire results. Al’s son is played first by Sid Owen as a young boy and then by Dexter Fletcher as a growing lad, and both do a decent job really, I guess.

There are some good bit part players too, such as John Wells and Joan Plowright.

Some of the dialogue is a bit sentimental-patriotic and that’s a weakness, and some of the Brits are shown as decadent aristos that need shooting, but by and large the war is not shown as a straight goodies vs. baddies affair and at the end Al is cheated of the land he was promised and is disillusioned at the whole business. Still, he gets Nastassja so all’s well that ends well.

This is not a great film but it’s satisfactory. It’s a whole lot better than that poisonous drivel The Patriot anyway, a junk War of Independence film to be avoided at all costs.
 
Some years later director Hugh Hudson re-edited the film, adding a Pacino voiceover, and it is said this version is a lot better. In fact The Observer’s Philip French greeted the new version as "profound, poetic and original." Perhaps it is.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Martyrs of the Alamo (Fine Arts Film Company, 1915)


DW Griffith and Christy Cabanne do The Alamo




 
 
An early silent feature film made about the defense of the Alamo, this 72-minute epic was produced by DW Griffith and directed & written by W Christy Cabanne. Although it treats Mexicans and Mexican-Americans as dismissively as Afro-Americans were treated in The Birth of a Nation the same year - here Mexicans are all drunken women-molesters and Santa Anna (a seriously hammy Walter Long) is a dope fiend - the movie is impressive in its scope and size and contains some quite sophisticated shooting techniques with close-ups.

Christy Cabanne (1888 – 1950), after Annapolis and the US Navy, became a stage actor and writer, then entered films as assistant to DW Griffith. He wrote and directed movies from the famous Life of Villa in 1912 up till a forgettable Western, Silver Trails, in 1948. He wrote and/or directed twenty Westerns in all (this 1915 one was already his eleventh), of which this one and his 1937 The Outcasts of Poker Flat (the Preston Foster/Van Heflin one) were probably his most famous and best. In later years he was reduced to Poverty Row B-movies but he contributed importantly to the history of the genre.
 
Remember!

Martyrs of the Alamo’s large sub-title, ‘The Birth of Texas’, makes explicit reference to The Birth of a Nation. The treatment is intensely patriotic, appropriately for 1915, and much play is made of the American flag. The opening titles tell us that “Liberty-loving Americans who had built up the Texas colony were denied their rights.” So it’s pretty clear where we stand. The Mexicans, apart from assailing the virtue of American women and being free with alcohol, are Roman Catholics who cross themselves before going into battle. Of course they are also cowardly and flee before the blazing guns of the defenders.
 
Sub-title bigger than the title
 
These defenders are commanded at first by ‘James Bowie’ (Alfred Paget), whose Bowie knife is a rather feeble toothpick compared with later versions, but buckskin and beaver-clad Travis (John Dillon) is appointed by Houston to take over. Bowie is stricken with a mortal disease anyway. ‘David Crockett’ is there, of course, looking very young (Allan Sears, who was 28), also suitably rigged out in coonskin cap. In fact nearly all the defenders wear them. It’s the furriest Alamo ever. David is a crack shot with his musket.
 
The furriest Alamo ever

The main hero, though, and with top billing, is Silent Smith (Sam De Grasse), scout and fearless fighter, who has fallen for an old soldier’s daughter (Juanita Hansen). He is sent by Travis to get reinforcements from Houston. It was lucky, in the pre-talkie days, that Silent could be so taciturn. Canadian De Grasse was one of the most famous villains of the silent era, and Douglas Fairbanks (who is in the credits for this film as a Texas soldier but it’s difficult to spot him) used him all the time as the bad guy. But here he is the good guy.

There is only one black man and he is a white man in blackface. There is of course no mention of the fact that the Texans supported slavery and Mexico had banned it.
 
Typical early Hollywood black man
 
The battle scenes are big and impressive and the Alamo very baroque.

The film does not finish with the fall of the Alamo and so has a kind of happy ending, rare in Alamo pictures, as the decadent Mexicans are finally defeated and Texas becomes free. (White Texas anyway).

IMDB gives 200 titles with the word Alamo in them. There certainly have been an extraordinary number of filmic defenses of that mission. This one wasn’t even the first. There were films in 1911 (starring Francis Ford) and 1914.

Martyrs of the Alamo needs to be seen, for the historic interest. Although it’s very expensive to buy on amazon, I found it as a free download from http://emol.org/movies/martyrsofthealamo/index.html

 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Frank Ferguson


Frank Ferguson, Western character actor (1899  - 1978)


Good old Frank Ferguson. Many people will see that craggy, familiar face and think of Eli in Peyton Place but to us Western fans, the Westernistas, los aficionados, the true folk, the beautiful people, he means much more than some cheesy soap opera. Frank was in 214 Westerns: A, B and TV, though thankfully not spaghetti. He was one of those Western character actors like Jack Elam, Edgar Buchanan or Slim Pickens whom you recognized instantly, and knew that the Western would be, if not good (one couldn’t guarantee that), at least better for his appearance in it.

 
Frank often played the lawman, leading townsman or judge. Something about that craggy brow, mustache and downward-sloping eyebrows gave him a certain gravitas, although he could also act the pompous or self-important type. He was Judge Roy Bean in the 1959 episode Law West of the Pecos of the ABC Western series Colt .45 and Governor Lew Wallace in the NBC series The Tall Man, starring Barry Sullivan as Sheriff Pat Garrett and Clu Galager as Billy the Kid.

Governor Wallace
 
In fact he did a huge amount of TV work. He was of course the ranch handyman Gus on the CBS series My Friend Flicka and the Calverton veterinarian in Lassie. But if I tell you that he appeared in sometimes multiple episodes of Alias Smith and Jones, Bat Masterson, Bonanza, Bronco, Cheyenne, Colt .45, Death Valley Days, Destry, Frontier Circus, Frontier Justice, Gunsmoke, Have Gun - Will Travel, Hopalong Cassidy, How the West was Won, Klondike, Kung Fu, Laramie, Lawman, Little House on the Prairie, Maverick, Overland Trail, Riverboat, Sheriff of Cochise, Shotgun Slade, Stagecoach West, Sugarfoot, Tales of Texas Rangers, Tales of Wells Fargo, Temple Houston, The Deputy, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Lone Ranger, The Restless Gun, The Restless Gun, The Rifleman, The Tall Man, The Texan, The Virginian, The Westerner, US Marshal, Wagon Train, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Wichita Town, Wide Country and Zane Grey Theatre, and I may have missed a couple, you will understand that as a Western character actor, Frank Ferguson verged on the ubiquitous.

Grant's secretary
 
It’s in big-screen Western movies, though, that I prefer to see Frank. He debuted in They Died With Their Boots On, one of my favorite Errol Flynn/Raoul Walsh pictures, in 1941 as Grant’s secretary, uncredited, but we all have to start somewhere. In Canyon Passage, another fave of mine, he was Preacher, but still uncredited, and he was uncredited again in a 1947 Bill Elliott oater, The Fabulous Texan, and yet again as a cavalry lieutenant in California, but it was fame at last in 1948 as seventh-billed “Mr. Green” in the quality William Holden/Robert Mitchum film Rachel and the Stranger.

Preacher
 
After that you can spot him as a newspaperman in JohnFord ’s Fort Apache and as Jim Dobbs in Universal’s remake of Destry Rides Again, Frenchie, with Joel McCrea and Shelley Winters, in 1950.  He was Dr. Grieve in the Anthony Mann-directed The Furies in the same year and, finally a ‘proper’ role, he was Bat Masterson in the 1951 Randolph Scott oater Santa Fe.

Newspaperman
 
Highlights afterwards included his Tom Grundy in the Anthony Mann/James Stewart Western Bend of the River,
 
Tom Grundy
 
cattleman John Britton in the interesting John Ireland picture Hannah Lee: An American Primitive (1953), Mr. Dyar in the Delmer Daves/Alan Ladd effort Drum Beat (1954) and his patriarch rancher Chad Polsen in the underrated The Outcast, also 1954.
 
Farmer patriarch
 
He was in both those odd Westerns Rancho Notorious (1952) and Johnny Guitar (1954), the preacher in the first and the sheriff in the second. In fact he was in no fewer than 23 Westerns 1952 – 54, quite an achievement.

Preacher again
 
Sheriff
 
My Friend Flicka started in 1955 and that kept him busy. The rest of his Western career was mostly given over to TV work but he was also in some feature Westerns. He was sheriff yet again in a George Montgomery oater Gun Duel in Durango and the DA in a Sterling Hayden one, The Iron Sheriff, both in 1957. The following year he was a marshal again in the 1958 Gary Cooper Western Man of the West and a clergyman again in another Sterling Hayden effort, the interesting little Terror in a Texas Town.

Marshal
 
He appeared in the Audie oater The Quick Gun (1964) and as General Terry in The Great Sioux Massacre (1965).

General Terry
 
Wherever Frank Ferguson pops up in the credits, you always say, oh good, Frank Ferguson. He’s one of those actors. He’s certainly in my dream Western, in a thick gray suit, in the saloon, urging caution on lynch-minded townsmen or maybe as a kindly lawyer helping the dispossessed rancher’s daughter. His walrus mustache and crinkly face smile gravely.

 
 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Outcast (Republic, 1954)


Slim loads a Winchester at full gallop




 
 
I really like The Outcast. It’s an unpretentious Republic B-Western with weaknesses, yes, but with a lot of strengths. It’s actionful, zippy and enjoyable, and has some excellent performances.

The 1951 Randolph Scott movie Man in the Saddle was also known as The Outcast but this is different. This one stars one of the weaknesses, John Derek (1926 – 98), aged 28, known, if known at all, as Bo’s husband, for his Joshua in The Ten Commandments and for being pipped at the post in the Worst Achievement in Film Award for his direction of Tarzan, the Ape Man, beaten by Michael Cimino for the megaturkey Heaven’s Gate. He was in 41 B and TV Westerns and The Outcast was his third. He had lustrous black hair but little thespian talent. Still, to be fair, he does manage the action scenes of the Western well and leaps athletically onto a horse.
 
Nice color anyway
 
Luckily he is compensated for in the dramatic stakes by the other actors, some of whom are excellent. We have stalwart Frank Ferguson (always good to see) as the paterfamilias of the Polsen clan, decent farmers run off the range by ruthless cattle baron Jim Davis. Jim Davis, as doubtless you know, though best known as Jock Ewing in Dallas and for being the low-slung holstered railroad detective Matt Clark in all those Stories of the Century TV shows, started off at Republic and was in wagonloads of that studio's Westerns. In The Outcast he was in his mid-40s and looked really good in his gray frock-coat as the tough but dishonest rancher, enemy of Frank Polsen Ferguson.
 
Jim as unscrupulous cattle baron
 
Patriarch Frank’s sons are good too. They are Zeke (Robert ‘Buzz’ Henry, a stunt man who often doubled for Frank Sinatra, Glenn Ford and James Coburn), young Asa (Nicholas Coster) and, best of all, Boone, the eldest son, played by Slim Pickens. Slim, as we know, was hardly accurately named but for such a big man, boy, could he ride. It’s worth watching The Outcast just to see Slim loading a Winchester at full gallop. Buzz Henry was pretty good, too. The action on this film is very well done.
 
Slim he ain't
 
And then we have James Millican as the cattle baron’s foreman/hired gun, Harry Carey Jr. as one of his henchmen hands, and the excellent Bob Steele as the gunman hired by the hero who turns out to be a bad egg and changes sides. He shoots the inoffensive cook in the back. Oo, that’s mean. Mind, I’ve known a few cooks I’d like to shoot in the back. I also liked Nacho Galindo as another goon, the portly Curly. And there’s even Hank Worden as the barman. Good stuff. Low budget these Republic oaters may have been but you certainly got your ten cents’ worth.
 
Bob Steele arrives on the stage to command the gunmen
 
The female leads were slightly less stellar. Catherine McLeod (known for her soapy romancers) has come out to marry Jim Davis, not yet realizing what a rogue he is, and Joan Evans (Anne in the Audie oater No Name on the Bullet) is the Polsen farm girl who falls for Derek.

All in all, though, the acting is either satisfactory or downright good.

Director William Witney (1915 – 2002) came from Mascot to Republic, and learned pace and action (especially fight scenes at which he excelled) on serials. He is credited in some way or another as having participated in 270 Westerns. Respect.
 
Director Witney
 
Another of the weaknesses, though, is the writing (John K Butler and Richard Wormser screenplay from a Todhunter Ballard short story in Esquire), with plodding plot and wooden lines. Still, it’s a republic B-Western; we’re not talking The Searchers here. You want art?

More than watchable, though, I’d say.


Monday, January 27, 2014

San Antonio (Warner Bros, 1945)


Dashing Errol




 
 
This Western is fun in a 1945 kind of way. Produced by Robert Buckner, it was nominally directed by non-Western director David Butler but swashbuckling Raoul Walsh is also said to have worked on it. It has some Walsh get up and go all right.

Errol Flynn did eight Westerns and I think he was quite good in them. He started in an Earpish role in the energetic Dodge City in 1939, did two in 1940, Santa Fe Trail (with Ronald Reagan as Custer) and Virginia City, and all these first three were directed by Michael Curtiz. Curtiz was not a great Western director, really, but Flynn carried the pictures along with gusto. He liked Westerns. He described himself as “a rich man’s Roy Rogers.” Then in 1941 came the rip-roaring They Died With Their Boots On (Walsh again) and it was Flynn’s turn to be Custer. San Antonio was his fifth. I must admit, they did go downhill from there on.
 
 
In San Antonio Errol is Clay Hardin, not a badman gunslinger as his portmanteau name might suggest, although he is on the run. He’s a cattleman whose cows have all been stolen by slimy villain Paul Kelly. Errol’s pal Charlie Bell (John Litel in red and white check pants) helps him get back to San Antonio to brace Kelly and put him in jail. There’s loads of skullduggery, and the skullduggers fall out among themselves so then there’s even more.

The screenplay was by WR Burnett (The Westerner, Yellow Sky, Dark Command) and Alan LeMay (The Searchers, The Unforgiven), so real pedigree there.

The picture might well be described as rip-roaring. It has action and pzazz. The Bella Union saloon is really impressive, as is the gunfight that happens in it in the final reel. Acrobatic stuntmen fall from balconies to crush tables and a piano rolls down the stairs. Quiet it ain’t. There’s some very nice Bert Glennon photography in glorious Technicolor (Calabasas, Cal standing in for Texas). The music by Max Steiner is high-octane, melodramatic stuff. There’s shootin’ and gallopin’. The whole movie rattles along at a cracking pace.

Flynn was very dashing with his pistol on his belt and an elegant frock coat. The inevitable lerve interest is provided not this time by Flynn’s great co-star Olivia De Havilland as in Dodge, Santa Fe and Boots, but by Canadian Alexis Smith as actress Jeanne (rather than Belle) Starr, incredibly 1940s looking in hairstyle and make-up.
 
 
The fat comic relief is provided by SZ ‘Cuddles’ Sakall (I kid you not) who does the standard English language-mangling foreigner act. The partner baddy, just as caddish as Kelly (for this a two-villain picture), is Belgian Victor Francen as a New Orleans crook, Laguerre, with suspiciously black hair and make-up applied with a trowel. His hat’s great, though.

Good old Monte Blue is there and if you don’t blink you won’t miss Francis Ford and Chris-Pin Martin.
 
 
There are two pretty grim songs by la Smith to sit through (one, incredibly, Oscar-nominated). Most of the music, though, is based on the Max Steiner Dodge City score. There’s a drunken cat. There’s a cowboy gang backing Kelly up called The Wild Bunch.  There are one or two good lines. “This town is full of men,” opines Jeanne, “who look as though they’d step on baby chickens.” And in a way it’s The Alamo II because Errol tells Jeanne how brave Texans didn’t die there for later ones like him to give up. The Bella Union gunfight spills out onto the plaza and finally ends in the ruined Alamo.

No one would pretend that this is a great Western. It’s a fast-moving, commercial oater with no art pretensions whatever. But it’s a lot of fun.

 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe (CBA, 1972)


Cannibal, pervert, gambler, scalper




 
 
This film has any number of titles, To Kill or To Die, The Dragon Strikes Back and so on. It’s pulp whatever title it goes under. It’s a standard kung fu number with Chen Lee as a Chinese person landing in San Francisco in 1882, going to Texas (for some odd reason) and kung fuing people all over the place. It’s vaguely political, in a 5th grade kind of way, as Chen fights for truth and justice and all the Americans without exception are drunks, sadists or cowards and usually all three on the same day. Mexicans are alright though. They are exploited and racially abused just as Chen is, so they are brothers.

Klaus Kinski is in it (for five minutes) as one of the four killers hired by the evil lawyer to kill Chen (there’s a cannibal, a pervert, a gambler and a scalper; Klaus is the scalper). He is skewered with his own knives in no time. I don’t know how much Klaus was paid for it but he sure did well for an afternoon’s work. Piero Lulli is the absurdly evil lawyer Spencer. There’s some love interest, a supposedly Mexican but extremely Italian-looking Carla Romanelli. Gordon Mitchell is in it. The bad Chinaman is played by a Japanese but hey, he’s oriental, ain’t he? None of the characters develops at all, nor is there any attempt at delineating them beyond their cartoonish portrayal.
 
 
Klaus and Chen wear flared early 70s jeans.

The music is sub-Morricone. Morricone is already pretty sub in my view so sub-Morricone means junk.

The credits say the movie was filmed in Rome which is an obvious lie as it is so evidently Almeria. We’ve seen that bit they use so many times. Chen moves through Texan olive groves.

Like many such films, the ‘plot’ is just an episodic series of excuses for kung fu action. It’s quite gory, with the gambler’s eyeball snatched out by Chen and his final opponent’s hand chopped off. But of course it’s that spaghetti kind of gore, not real. Actually Chen had just chopped off the hand when my DVD froze and wouldn’t restart whatever I did (I didn’t have the heart to blame it) so I never did find out what happened. However, this has not traumatized me (or put another way, I couldn’t care less) and I have just the slightest sneaking suspicion that Chen might have won and got the girl.
 
 
Apparently the director Mario Caiano is known for his horror films and there is something horror about this but if his horror films are as poor as this one I’m glad I haven’t had to sit through any of them.

To be fair, I have seen spaghettis with lower production values.

But not often.

 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Outrage (MGM, 1964)


An overwrought play




 
 
When I first saw this movie I wrote in my notes, “A rather boring black & white play. Newman hams it up as Mex bandit. Laurence Harvey spends most of play tied to a tree and gagged. So that’s good. Bloom fake Southern accent. EGR has best part.”

On balance, I still think that’s basically true and could probably stop my review here but I have revised my opinion slightly upwards on further viewings and I don’t think now that it’s quite as bad as that.

It certainly is very static and like a stage play – death for a Western. But the on-location flashbacks are very welcome and the James Wong Howe photography of the Arizona scenery is wonderful, luminous. The whole tone of the story is dark and one of foreboding, from the introductory slow zoom on the night-time railroad depot in the pouring rain onwards. We focus in on Preacher Shatner, sitting, disconsolate. Bearded farmer Howard da Silva is there too and they recount the horrors of the previous day’s murder trial to cynical, worldly Edward G Robinson, bunco artist.
 
Bloom, Newman

Based on the Japanese stories Rashomon and In A Grove by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (made into the film Rashomon by Kurosawa), this is another 60s borrowing of a Japanese tale transposed into the key of Western. It is a clever recounting of the same story by different people, even the victim (he whispers his version to an Indian who tells it at the trial; not very plausible, I agree) in which we, the audience, are convinced by each one and forced to change our opinion each time. Even the final ‘true’ version turns out to be flawed and Edward G has a great metaphor about the truth being like the shell game: now you see it and now you don’t.

Edward G is great, Shatner surprisingly convincing, da Silva sympathetic. Newman in black hair and droopy mustache is not as hammy as my first notes suggest and essays a Mexican accent with some aplomb. The two weakest links are really Lithuanian/Brit movie star Laurence Harvey and Brit Claire Bloom, both of whose Southern American accents are less than convincing. Bloom overacts, especially in her trial testimony scene. Harvey (Travis in the John Wayne 1960 Alamo) does indeed spend a lot of the play tied to a tree and immobile and, worse still for an actor, gagged. Boy, do those eyes move. Bloom had in fact played the equivalent part in the New York stage production of Rashomon.
 
Shatner: surprisingly good

In the last scene da Silva and Shatner go off with a babe in arms on a donkey like some seriously weird holy family.

I didn’t care for the Alex North music which is plain soppy when Bloom is on. The direction (Martin Ritt) and editing (Frank Santillo) are also a bit mediocre. Ritt produced as well as directed it. He had directed Newman in the excellent Hud the year before and was to do the same with the even better Hombre (four revolvers, going on five) three years later. The Outrage is not at all in that class but has its points.

The main trouble is that it is simply too slow. The pace might be fine for a three-act play on Broadway or for a Kurosawa film but it doesn’t work in a Western. Kurosawa gives us subtlety and a statement on the elusiveness and illusiveness of truth. This version just gives us four long tellings of the same story. Great acting might have saved it. As it is, two revolvers, dudes.

EGR the best part and best actor
 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Son of Paleface (Paramount, 1952)


The stars are Jane’s legs, Trigger, and Bob’s car




 
 
Four years after The Paleface, Bob Hope returns as Junior, the son of Paleface Potter. This time Jane Russell is not Calamity Jane but Mike, leader of the gang, dressed all in black, wearing tight pants and a pair of pistols. As it were. It’s the Joan Crawford look ante diem and she also has her Johnny Guitar, only it’s Roy Rogers, and a gun is hidden in the instrument, the prototype of any number of spaghetti westerns to come. La Dietrich in Rancho Notorious came out the same year so women bandidas were rather the thing. Barbara Stanwyck in the trashy Forty Guns (1957) also probably modeled herself on Mike. And of course Matt Dillon’s old flame was called Mike in those Gunsmoke pictures, as was rancheress Claire Trevor in the 1941 Texas, and Anne Baxter in Yellow Sky in 1948, but that's enough references.

 
Bob Hope just models himself on Bob Hope. He’s utterly great. The movie is a non-stop series of one-liners and visual gags and two laughs a minute, from the titles on. There are “8 beautiful girlies (count ‘em)” and 7 songs. La Russell is preposterously over the top in sex appeal, Roy is his usual dudish, prim, narrow-eyed self, Paul E Burns is the old pard Ebenezer and Iron Eyes Cody has a bit part as Yellow Cloud, out to get Indian-killer Potter’s son.

 
It’s set in Sacramento and Russell is The Torch, bandit chief extraordinaire. Roy is a federal agent out to get her. But it’s Bob who gets her in the end.

The stars are Jane’s legs, Trigger, and Bob’s car. Hope is very like Toad of Toad Hall, in driving coat and goggles, crashing a lot and wandering about dazed holding a steering wheel.

 
He foils the Indians charging after him by throwing banana skins out so that the horses slip. He wears a twenty-gallon hat just like Harpo in Go West. There are loads of Harvard and Yale jokes (Junior is class of ’95). The dénouement takes place in a ghost town whose sign announces it as ‘STERLING CITY - If you’ll pardon the expression.’ Cecil B DeMille appears from behind a camera. There’s gold in a moose.
 
Toad                         Bob

Filmed on sound stages and at the Paramount Ranch, photographed by someone or other and with music probably written by someone, with no cinematic merit whatsoever (the music, photography and much of the writing were not from those who did The Paleface), it is just a hilarious, irresistible romp. It’s up there in the top ten of comedy westerns and way funnier than its founding father The Paleface of 1948. Of the four Westerns Bob Hope did, this rivals Alias Jesse James as the best, and probably wins.
 
You do rather need to see this one.