“Never wait too long between shots, or your finger may change its mind.”
A trigger-happy saloon singer (Betty Grable) accidentally hits a judge (Porter Hall) in his backside while intending to shoot her cheating lover (Cesar Romero). She flees to a small town with her Mexican friend (Olga San Juan), where the pair are mistaken for a schoolteacher and her Indian companion, and Grable makes a play for the mayor’s wealthy son (Rudy Vallee) while trying to avoid detection.
Preston Sturges’ final American comedy was a notorious bust upon its release, but it’s not quite as bad as its reputation would indicate. Indeed, the first 45 minutes or so of this short comedy (just 77 minutes long) are reasonably clever, and full of exactly the type of zany, fast-paced dialogue you’d expect from Sturges; my favorite scenes are those involving Olga San Juan, playing a lower-keyed Carmen Miranda-type with fabulously droll comedic timing (many agree she should have been given more screen-time). Unfortunately, Sturges seems unable to sustain the momentum he’s built, allowing the film to devolve into an interminable slapstick shoot-out and an unrealistic courtroom finale. Other elements of the screenplay don’t quite sit well, either: if Grable’s character is posited (in a cute opening sequence) as a woman trained from birth to have remarkable aim a la Annie Oakley, how is it that she manages to miss her target so widely? Meanwhile, a pair of over-aged “schoolboys” (played by Sterling Holloway and Dan Jackson) are simply ill-conceived, and Grable’s interest in Vallee merely serves to turn our sympathies away from her, given that she’s supposedly in love with Romero, and thus is clearly just gold-digging with poor Vallee. Regardless, fans of Sturges will still be curious to check out his infamous final outing for Hollywood, before all but disappearing from the screen.
NB: Sturges’ last film, made in France (titled The French, They Are a Funny Race, or The Diary of Major Thompson), isn’t listed in Peary’s book.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- An amusingly scripted first 45 minutes
- Olga San Juan as Conchita
No, but I do think it’s worth a look during its first half — and Sturges completists will naturally want to have seen it.
Posted on February 21st, 2012 by admin
Filed under: Original Reviews