While Kenneth More was always known for displaying an archetypal British stiff-upper-lip in the likes of vintage car comedy Genevieve and the first major Titanic drama A Night To Remember, American sex symbol Jayne Mansfield was best known for displaying other, more prominent, parts of her body. So they made for an extremely unlikely pair (More and Mansfield, that is) in this spoof Western directed by Hollywood legend Raoul Walsh.
Although he made over 100 films, dating from his first in 1912 for DW Griffith, Walsh never received an Oscar for his efforts – a lack of recognition which many consider to be criminal neglect, especially given his work on such classics as White Heat (with James Cagney), The Big Trail (a Western with John Wayne) and They Drive By Night (with Humphrey Bogart).
The Sheriff Of Fractured Jaw was one of Walsh’s final films, shot when he was 70. Unusually for a Western it starts in London at the turn of the century. Having inherited a failing gunsmith business, Jonathan Tibbs (More) decides that the real market for his wares is in the Wild West. So, with walking stick and dapper suit in tow, he sets off with some samples. Having set foot in the land of opportunity, though, it’s not long before More is in trouble with native Americans, two rival sets of cowboys and Kate (Mansfield), the pistol-packing boss of a saloon. And just when he thinks things can’t get any worse, he gets duped into becoming the sheriff of Fractured Jaw, a one-horse town which is not so much Wild as livid.
One of the first films to send-up the previously revered Cowboys and Indians genre (at one point, More introduces the hard-living locals to the joys of afternoon tea), the film set the trail for the likes of Maverick and Blazing Saddles , and proves that the Italians weren’t the only Europeans to make Westerns in the fifties and sixties.
UK / 1959
Director: Raoul Walsh
Writer: Arthur Dales, Jacob Hay
Cast: Kenneth More, Jayne Mansfield, Bruce Cabot, Henry Hull, William Campbell, Robert Morley, Ronald Squire