Nineteenth century Wyoming: the wild West. Mild-mannered Tom Healy has a two-wagon theater troupe hounded by creditors because Angela, his leading lady and the object of his affection, constantly buys clothes. In Cheyenne, they meet with applause, so they hope to stay awhile: the theater owner likes Angela, and she keeps him on a string. She's also the object of the attentions of Mabry, a gunslinger who's owed money by the richest man in Bonanza. Complications arise and the troupe heads for Bonanza, through hostile Indian territory. Is the troupe doomed to a peripatetic life, is Mabry in danger, and does Tom stand a chance with Angela, a hellion in pink tights? Written by
Non-western stars and director looking mighty uneasy on the range...
In Old West Wyoming, a traveling troupe of dramatic actors is on the run from bill collectors; a cocky gunslinger comes to their rescue once the caravan hits hostile Indian territory--sticking around to settle a bet with the beautiful leading actress, whom he's smitten with. George Cukor western, adapted from the novel "Heller With a Gun" by Louis L'Amour, has a shaky beginning, a not-bad first act, but absolutely nothing to offer after the first 50 or so minutes. Sophia Loren, in peculiar blonde and red wigs, has a charming early scene getting herself into a poker game (bluffing with 4 sevens), and there's also a stunning, beautifully accomplished sequence wherein the dramatists give an action-filled performance in a packed theater (complete with Loren riding through the crowd on a horse). Still, Anthony Quinn's relationship with Loren never catches fire, and Sophia and Steve Forrest create little chemistry. This may be due to Cukor's direction, which has no magic (and he's particularly insulting to the Indian tribe, who hoop and holler over the left-behind costumes like a bunch of drunken rowdies at a frat-house). A disappointment overall, though small sections of the picture give hint it may have been a fascinating effort under different circumstances. *1/2 from ****
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