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Once Upon a Horse... (1958)

Dan and Doc are incompetent desperados who plan to give crime one more try before going straight. Miss Amity Babb is the shapely toast of Empty Cup, Colorado who sets prices by Wall Street,... See full summary »



(story "Why Rustlers Never Win"),


Cast overview, first billed only:
David Burns ...
Dick Ryan ...
Sydney Chatton ...
Sam Hearn ...
Ingrid Goude ...


Dan and Doc are incompetent desperados who plan to give crime one more try before going straight. Miss Amity Babb is the shapely toast of Empty Cup, Colorado who sets prices by Wall Street, never loses at poker, and rules the town (and the sheriff) with a cash register in a velvet glove. When Amity and our two heroes meet, the slapstick burlesque of Western cliches grows ever wilder... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Western


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Release Date:

September 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hot Horse  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Dan Rowan and Dick Martin's film debut. See more »


Narrator: They were men of daring, of bold action and brute strength. This picture is not about any of those men. It's about...well...uh... it's about an hour and a half.
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Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Sung behind credits by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin
Performed with chorus by Martha Hyer
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User Reviews

A Nice Showcase for Martha Hyer's Wardrobe
24 May 2008 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

As you might suspect from the title, 1958's "Once Upon a Horse" is a western farce. If the title didn't give this away the casting of the night-club comedian team Rowan and Martin might have; of course this was 10 years before "Laugh-In" made them famous. Prior to this the western genre only rarely got a feature film comedy treatment, Bob Hope had a couple successful efforts shortly after WWII ("The Lemon Drop Kid" and "Son of Paleface").

"Once Upon a Horse" is not particularly funny but it is pleasant enough viewing and the production design is better than that of most "B" westerns. The casting of Dan Rowan (the Dick Smothers portion of the comedy team) and Dick Martin (the Tommy Smothers portion) seems rather strange as the script gives them little opportunity for their trademark verbal comedy and the only really good visual routine is Martin's beer drinking sequence. Fortunately Martha Hyer and Nita Talbot were excellent at subtle comedy and manage to inject enough minor laughs to keep the film from bogging down.

The Rowan and Martin characters are cattle rustlers who find themselves in a down market for beef. They discover that their new herd is worthless and that feeding cattle is expensive. Miss Amity Babb (Hyer), the local saloon owner, controls almost all commerce in the area and ruthlessly price gouges everyone. An ongoing gag concerns how predatory business people are bigger and more successful crooks that those who are openly dishonest.

Hyer has never particularly impressed me as a straight dramatic actress, but she knows how to gently tease a comic role. It is essentially her film, she looks gorgeous here-absolutely at her physical peak (also seek out 1957's "Mister Cory"). And her wardrobe is an excellent example of costume people earning their paychecks.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

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