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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The heroine's named Mary Darling, but the movie's funny anyway.

Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales
6 August 2008

I don't much give a Hoot about Gibson, but '40-Horse Hawkins' is a welcome variation of the usual Hoot Gibson formula, giving him more comedy sequences than usual, and taking place mostly away from the prairies and sagebrush.

Gibson is here a callow youth who tries holding various jobs, and there's an amusing running gag: every time Gibson gets a new job, he has the hat to go with it. After working as a cowpoke, a porter, and various other careers, he lands up as the stage director for a troupe of barnstorming actors. A character actor named Richard Tucker (not the same-named opera singer) is quite funny as the troupe's barrel-chested leading man.

The troupe's character actress (Helen Holmes, very impressive in an unsympathetic role) is attracted to our Hooty, but meanwhile he's attracted to the troupe's ingenue: her name is Mary Darling, which tells you all you need to know. (Anne Cornwall is bland in this role.) Holmes spitefully gets darling Mary Darling sacked, so Mary heads back to New York City, where -- with laughable ease -- she becomes the soubrette in a Broadway show.

Our Hoot has followed her, and soon he's a spear-carrier in the same production. Film director Edward Sedgwick gives an utterly hilarious performance as the stage manager and director of this stage play.

Gibson shows a real talent for comedy here, and some splendid comedic timing. I'll give him extra credit for forsaking his usual cowboy antics, and I'll rate this one 8 out of 10.

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