The Westerner Reviews
Cole Harden is a man arrested by the locals for stealing a horse and presented to the judge...the judge happens to be a star crazed bar tender. The bar tender finds him guilty and sentences Cole to a hanging. Cole convinces the bar tender that he has a lock of a starlet's hair that the bar tender has a crush on. The bar tender agrees to join him on an adventure to a neighboring town to get the lock of hair.
"If I had to do the dishes I'd give up eating."
William Wyler, director of Ben-Hur, Roman Holiday, The Collector, The Big Country, Wuthering Heights (1939), The Good Fairy, and The Little Foxes, delivers Westerners. The storyline for this picture is very fun and well written. The dialogue is excellent as are the character interactions. The cast includes Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Chill Wills, and Charles Halton.
"Ownership of the horse is clearly established."
This was recently on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and I had to DVR it since it starred Gary Cooper. He was very coy and entertaining in this film. His gestures were funny as were his interactions with the bar tender. I recommend this for fans of western classics.
"I thought you were a ghost."
Grade: B+/A- (8.75)
The film opens up with the conflict between cattlemen and home settlers already in full swing. The cattlemen had been working in the land and freely riding their cattle through the open terrain. The home settlers arrived in the area and try to raise their own crops to make their own living. The cattlemen resent the settlement of the newcomers because they interrupt their path while the home settlers resent the cattlemen who carelessly trample their crops.
In the opening sequence there is a shootout between the cattlemen and the home settlers. The cattlemen take one of the field workers of the home settlers to the town to be tried by Judge Roy Bean for killing one of their cattle. Immediately we learn of the corruption of Judge Roy Bean's methods and we also learn that his saloon turns into the courtroom when he wishes.
Gary Cooper plays a character that is caught with a stolen horse when he walks into the saloon. Through luck, the salesman of the stolen horse walks into the saloon and Cooper is released conditionally of his guilt. Now Cooper and Brennan develop a friendship because prior to his fortuitous encounter with the salesman, Cooper reveals his charismatic skills on Judge Roy. Cooper makes Judge Roy believe that he has met the judge's stage idol Lily Langtry and that she gave him a lock of hair. During Cooper's "trial" he also met Jane-Ellen who is a home settler making her voice heard to Judge Roy. Jane Ellen becomes the love interest of Cooper's character and leads to Cooper's attempt to resolve the conflict between the cattlemen and the land settlers.
In the film Cooper and all the actors engage in comical scenes. There is humor in many of the scenes. The film shifts from the serious conflict to the playful interactions in between the conflicts. I found it a fun, playful film, but the gullibility factor of a character like Judge Roy Bean was beyond credible. Cooper and Brennan deliver genuine comical characterizations that can keep the viewer entertained. As a humorous take on the Western genre, it is a successful film. But the stretching factor of the humor, did not allow me to take the film too seriously. The cinematography was of high quality with the black/white contrasts and outdoor scenes. Memorable scenes included Cooper waking up in bed with Brennan, a fist fight, a fire sequence and the finale in a theater. I enjoyed it, but unless I am missing some context surrounding the film, it is simply an entertaining film for fans of Wyler the director, Cooper and Brennan.