Son of Paleface (Frank Tashlin / U.S., 1952):

"He won the West. Wonder if he was using loaded dice..." Dwanís Montana Belle is the main basis, with Jane Russell in much the same part and Roy Rogers in mud-caked fringed duds as the opposite poles of untamed California. Between them and fresh out of Harvard is the tenderfootís son (Bob Hope), riding into town in candy-striped jacket and cap to find an empty inheritance chest and a throng of bloodthirsty creditors. The schnook and the ransacking bandit and the undercover lawman, sides of a triangle that Frank Tashlin keeps spinning like a circus plate, a fabulous sight. Itís showtime at the Dirty Shame saloon and, when Junior questions the agentís indifference to Russell in opulent scarlet, the Rogers earnestness becomes a game deadpan: "Iíll stick to horses, mister." (Trigger is outside, whinnying and dancing to justify the devotion.) Puttering through the desert, Hopeís automobile comes equipped with a pair of buzzards perched on the backseat like Heckle and Jeckle; through an ice-skating mirage they drive, only to be replaced by chattering penguins. "Beat it, or youíre going to make the whole thing unbelievable!" Following McLeodís original and improving on it considerably, Tashlin hits the ground running with the whole Termite Terrace panoply at his disposal: freeze-frames, asides to the camera, smoking pipes that curl and ignite like firecrackers, pinwheel spurs, soot-smeared mugs, cactus patches, the water pump that coughs dust ("Canít drink that, the glass is cracked"), sexy devil-babes, Winchesters inside guitars and banana peels under native hooves. In this irresistible sagebrush jamboree, the voyeur-audience receives a keyhole-shaped burst of suds in a gag approved by Cecil B. De Mille (plausibly grouchy in a cameo) and by Godard (Les Carabiniers). The progression toward Johnny Guitar and Lonesome Cowboys and Blazing Saddles is half the fun. "Letís see Ďem top this on television!" With Bill Williams, Lloyd Corrigan, Paul E. Burns, Douglass Dumbrille, and Harry von Zell.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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