Jimmy "Shamus" Culhane was a major Disney animator and the author of a how-to book which continues to inspire budding artists to become animators. On Hollywood's social ladder, animators have always occupied a very low rung ... but Culhane was the son-in-law of Chico Marx, a relationship which enabled Culhane to socialise with the Marx Brothers and their famous Hollywood friends such as Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
Culhane shanghaied some of those big stars to appear in this awful little film.
"Showdown at Ulcer Gulch" is Culhane's home movie. It's about as funny as your Uncle Irving's home movies, with slightly better production values. Like a lot of other Hollywood animators, Culhane wanted to escape from the cartoon ghetto and get a job making "real" movies; "Showdown at Ulcer Gulch" was apparently meant to be his demo reel. This film has lots of arty-tarty little "auteur" touches that make it even less funny than it started out to be.
Ted Key, the creator of the grossly unfunny Saturday Evening Post feature "Hazel", is credited(?) with the script of this film. There doesn't really seem to be a script. Most of the participants ("actors" would be the wrong word) seem to be ad-libbing, and they're ad-libbing very badly. Even those great improv-meisters Groucho and Chico Marx are ad-libbing badly here. Actually, maybe I'm not being fair to Chico here, because (taking a leaf from his brother Harpo, perhaps?) Chico doesn't speak any lines at all in his brief appearance: he just plays the piano. But he acts nervous and unprepared, as if he hasn't decided what tune he's going to play: he and Groucho both seem to have been press-ganged in front of a camera, and they don't know what to do next.
When you look at IMDb's cast list for this film - Groucho, Chico, Hope and Crosby, Ernie Kovacs and his wife (the under-rated Edie Adams) - you'll assume that "Showdown at Ulcer Gulch" must be a lost masterpiece of comedy, a sure-fire laff-riot. No, honestly: it's awful. I'll rate it one point out of 10,
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