The guys at the saloon in a wild west town are unhappy to hear that a moral crusader, known as the Fighting Parson, is headed their way. We meet the parson and his wife aboard a stagecoach; their fellow passenger is an itinerant banjo player. After the stage is held up, only the banjo player makes it to town, where he's mistaken for the Fighting Parson. A gal forced into white slavery at the saloon asks him for help, and he has to duke it out with the dance hall girl's tormentor. Does this small man stand a chance? Written by
In the 1920s, Harry Langdon made some fine comedies. However, after making some very career choices, he took charge of his career and ended up losing so much of his comic edge. He left the studio and director (Frank Capra) who made him successful and spent the next decade-plus floundering in poor films (or worse). Much of his act in these films seemed to be Langdon acting as if he's a child who is insufferably annoying--insisting that everyone should stop and pay attention to him. His trying hard to look like a slightly addled child certainly didn't help.
Here in one of Langdon's efforts for Hal Roach Studios, much of the time he follows this poor pattern. Many times (especially early in the film) he seems to just prattle aimlessly and at great length--as if that alone was somehow funny (which it wasn't). In particular, seeing and hearing him talk and talk and talk gibberish on the stage coach was pretty tough to endure. Following this, so often through the film Landgon just stared off into space--as if somehow that was funny. His comic timing was just dreadful and much of the film should have been edited to make it tighter and less long-winded.
Later, a bit more happens--though it isn't necessarily funny. There's a slow-motion boxing match where he literally walks about as if he's on downers. And seeing his enormously long fake arms was, apparently, THE joke--not just part of a longer and funnier routine. It didn't make me laugh and was just rather dumb--but perhaps kids will laugh at this.
The bottom line is like the other Hal Roach shorts I've seen Langdon make, this one is just dreadful--and even worse than his later shorts for Columbia. After a promising career start, he settled into a life of awfulness that is just inexplicable--how could a guy who was once this funny now be this unfunny?! As a HUGE fan who has reviewed hundreds (if not more) early comedies, I am dumbfounded by this and find his later films practically unwatchable. Do yourself a favor and try his earlier films--they really aren't at all like this bilge.
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