Monday, December 27, 2010


Young, attractive Judith Barrett arrives for a stay at Yellowstone National Park, and is immediatly hit on by horny, not-so-attractive ranger Henry Hunter. She's there to meet up with her father (Ralph Morgan) whom she thinks has been gallivanting around the globe for 18 years, but we soon find out that he's been in prison all that time for his part in a huge bank robbery, and he's come to the park to claim the loot which he buried there all those years ago. Naturally, it's not going to be that simple: at least two other suspicious fellows (Monroe Owsley and Rollo Lloyd) are tailing Morgan, wanting a share of the money, and a private detective (Alan Hale) is also present on behalf of the bank's insurance company--or so he says. About halfway through the movie, Morgan is killed, his corpse shooting up through a long-dormant geyser. Though he has a bullet in his back, it's determined that he froze to death. As Hale and the cops investigate, Hunter falls under suspicion and, with the help of his slow-minded sidekick (Andy Devine), he has to work to clear himself, if only to stay in Barrett's good graces.

This is a B-movie from a major studio (Universal) but it feels more like a lower-budget Monogram picture: it’s only an hour long, the acting is mediocre, the plotting is not very tight, and background music is used inappropriately. Hunter and Barrett, the romantic leads, are singularly unappealing with zero chemistry, and Devine is damned irritating. That leaves Hale and the slimy Owsley as the most charismatic actors in the movie, and that’s just weird. (I like Alan Hale, but more as background color.) Some of the film's backgrounds were certainly shot at Yellowstone, but most if not all of the actors' scenes look like studio shots. There's potential in the plot, but the uniqueness of the park setting isn't exploited especially well. If Warner Brothers had done this, it would have moved more quickly and had snappier dialogue, and maybe would have had Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan as the main couple, and that would have definitely been worth an hour of my time. There is a song, a lonely cowboy tune called "Joggin' Along," co-written by Frank Loesser, that takes up three minutes, but the other sixty minutes are slow going. [DVD]

No comments: