Sunday, February 18, 2007


This early talkie has an amusing plotline which is derailed a bit by an artificial, over-the-top performance from William Haines, getting just a bit too old at 30 to still be effective playing his youthful wisecracker roles. In this one, he plays a cocky carnival barker for a dancing girls act; one night after the show in Deep Gulch, he cheats a bunch of ranch hands with a rigged roulette wheel and plans to abscond to Chicago with the chunk of ill-gotten cash. His plans go awry when 1) one of the girls steals his money, and 2) the angry cowboys realize they've been cheated and try to lynch him when he can't give back their dough. However, the ranch owner (Charles Middleton) talks the boys into making him stay on the ranch and work off his debt. They give him a hard time but he manages to stay mostly one step ahead of them until he falls for the owner's sister (Leila Hyams) and she for him, much against Middleton's wishes. The funniest single line may be when Hyams, expecting the maid Pansy (Polly Moran), tells him to come in, sees him, and says, "You're not Pansy"; his reply, in full camp mode: "I'm the wildest pansy you ever picked!" In the end, Haines redeems himself by braving a sandstorm to get Hyams medical help for a dangerous snakebite. Haines is rather grating, and he has very little chemistry with Hyams. Cliff Edwards is fun, as usual, as one of the less ornery cowpokes, and Francis X. Bushman Jr. (son of the famous silent star) plays a more obnoxious but hunky cowboy whose plans for marrying Hyams wind up dashed. Moderately interesting, but mostly as a museum piece or for fans of Haines. [TCM]

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