Son Of Paleface (1952 with Bob Hope and Jane Russell)

USA / 1952

Director: Frank Tashlin
Writers: Frank Tashlin, Robert L Welch, Joseph Quillan

Cast: Bob Hope, Jane Russell, Roy Rogers, Bill Williams, Lloyd Corrigan, Paul E Burns, Douglass Dumbrille, Harry Von Zell, Iron Eyes Cody, Wee Willie Davis, Charley Cooley

Junior (Hope), Harvard educated son of dearly departed Paleface Potter, returns to the frontier-town of Sawbuck Pass and quickly discovers that he’s inherited his father’s debts. Legend has it the old man had a heap of treasure stashed away too, but no-one knows of its whereabouts.

The town is in a state of turmoil thanks to a gang of fearsome bandits lead by The Torch that’s been looting bullion shipments. On the trail of the elusive troupe is government agent Roy Rogers (Rogers) and his sidekick, Doc Lovejoy (Lloyd Corrigan), who’ve insinuated themselves into the scenery by posing as travelling medicine men. When they clock that Junior has the hots for Mike (Russell), the foxy owner of the Dirty Shame saloon, they decide to use him to ensnare the voluptuous landlady who, they are convinced, is masquerading as The Torch. Sure enough, when Junior informs Mike about his father’s lost treasure, she’s all over him like a rash and the chase is on.

Matters are complicated in that Mike actually has a thing for Roy, but Roy has eyes for no-one but his horse. The leads cross and double-cross each other through a plot involving irate injuns, lynch mobs, ghost towns, desert wanderings and a clutch of hummable ditties before the cheerful denouement, when Junior gets the gold and the girl.

This is a “free-wheeling, often hilarious, rambunctious,” affair according to Variety . “It is the broadest kind of slapstick, drawing advantageously on the silent-day masters.” The Daily Telegraph was similarly amused, calling the film, “a Western stuffed with gags, some of them very funny, dating back to Early Mack Sennett,” while the Daily Mail gushed: “It is a long time since I have laughed so much…Hope’s drollery has a chance to expand to its limit, and we all know how funny that can be. I particularly relished the final sequence, an old-fashioned comedy climax in which absurdity is piled on absurdity almost ad infinitum.”

Watch out for unbilled appearances by Cecil B DeMille and Bing Crosby and Roy Rogers’ rendition of Jack Brooks’ A Four-Legged Friend, sung dewy-eyed to Trigger.

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