The Girl of the Golden West Reviews

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½ February 7, 2015
Overlong musical western.
½ May 24, 2010
On one hand, THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST has some positive things going for it. For example, the main characters are fairly interesting - the actors looked like they had a lot of fun making this. The story takes place in California during the early days of the gold rush (Monterey was the capital back then). The production values are quite high with lavish sets and costumes - which seem to be par for the course for these popular Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald flicks - MGM spared no expense in that regard. The film was shot in sepia tone which lends a lyrical quality to the photography - the film really is gorgeous to look at.

...but with that said, I think the script just wimps out in the end. What I mean by that are given a strong character in the antagonist, Sheriff Jack Rance (Walter Pidgeon) setting up what could have been a climactic confrontation at the finale... but the expected "bang" turns out to be a "dud." Bah!

The script was based on a successful play which was adapted into an opera by composer Giacomo Puccini - "La Fanciulla del West" it was only natural that it became an Eddy/MacDonald vehicle.

During the extended prologue, orphan Mary Robbins (Jeanne Ellis) and her guardian, Uncle Davy (Charlie Grapewin) are part of a group of settlers making their way to California. They seem a fairly happy group...all singing in unison along they way...till they run into Father Sienna (H.B. Warner) who warns the settlers to beware of a Mexican bandit know as The General (Noah Beery). The General roams the area with his group of bandits which includes a "gringo" kid (Bill Cody, Jr), also an orphan. Both Mary and the gringo kid are blessed with exceptional "pipes" and sing like songbirds...and although they do not officially meet during the prologue - orphan Mary will grow up to be the Jeanette MacDonald character (now a saloon keeper) and the "gringo" kid will be the Nelson Eddy character (now head of the banditos and with a substantial reward for his capture, Ramirez). Completing the love triangle will be the aforementioned Sheriff Rance, who doesn't think twice about shooting poker players he catches cheating in Mary's saloon. His main goal in life is to capture that sneaky bandit, Ramirez (who disguises himself as an army Lieutenant in order to see Mary).'s all silly, really - but it's still the depression era, remember...and this is supposed to be escapist entertainment. The set up is okay, but too bad they just couldn't come up with a stronger finale here.

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