EDDIE ALBERT IN FORTIES HOLLYWOOD

The Dude Goes West
Kurt Neumann
1948

A gunsmith shuts down his New York shop and heads west to seek his fortune.  He encounters a feisty young woman out for her own fortune and searching for the whereabouts of a lost family mine.  Our gunsmith Daniel Bone also encounters a badman (Barton MacLane in a delightfully sympathetic role as the villain you enjoy liking) as well as an unpredictable gambler (James Gleason, acting believe it or not and creating a character).  The hero also runs into at-first hostile but then-friendly Indians.

As written and as played by Gale Storm the forever uncooperative would-be heiress becomes tiresome.  But as the wandering gunsmith Eddie Albert delivers as close to a pitch- perfect performance as this vehicle allows.  His singing is good, too.  The cast also boasts Gilbert Roland and Binnie Barnes.

The orginal screenplay by Mary Loos and Richard Sale enjoys upending the western’s conventions.  In the end (SPOILER ALERT), it is not the cavalry but the Indians who come over the hill to save Bone and his friends from the whites.  But the direction almost never reaches and never sustains the bantering offbeat tone that the script requires.  And the Caravaggesque chiaroscuro of the photography (Karl Struss) is almost too beautiful for the tale it is telling.

NEXT Friday POST April 17
Until then,
Rick

 

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