Ginger Rogers sells, while Carol Channing chases a young Clint Eastwood.
28 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a lightweight but fun comedy with a seasoned (44) Ginger Rogers, who in 1897 is billed as the first traveling saleslady, selling corsets with steel reinforcements. Having trouble selling corsets in the conservative new west, because the townswomen protest, she overhears a big steel boss lamenting the fact that his barbed wire salesmen keep getting shot and killed. Undaunted and seemingly willing to face any challenge, the bigger the better, Rose Gillray (Rogers) steps and convinces a reluctant boss to let her sell barbed wire.

(Most cattle owners, especially the smaller ones, wanted a good way to pen in their cattle. But the big ranch owners who wanted to preserve open spaces and free grazing were against it, and tried to convince everyone that the cattle would cut themselves up with barbed wire.)

This is a comedy all the way and Ginger Rogers is in fine form. Her voice and delivery of lines reminded me of Lucille Ball who most of us know from more contemporary TV series. But the movie, in Technicolor, is especially enjoyable to see so many stars when they were younger, plus a mature Ginger Rogers.

SPOILERS FOLLOW. Down in Texas the local biggest rancher and town boss Joel Kingdom (James Arness) had Rose and her assistant Molly (Channing) locked up as a way to preserve their status quo. But after Rose's friend and admirer Charles Masters (Barry Nelson) bailed them out, Rose enlisted the help of a traveling marshal, and got a trial set up to settle the issue. In a somewhat hokey scene, with barbed wire protecting the court house, the townswomen drove a large herd of cattle towards the courthouse and showed that the cattle would stop at the barbed wire and not cut themselves up. Barbed wire sales boomed!

Clint Eastwood was around 25 here, in his first movie role that had any continuity through the story, as Lt. Jack Rice, a member of the Roughriders. When Molly first meets him she swoons for him, and eventually they end up together. Joel Kingdom tries to neutralize Rose by getting her to marry him, and be his housewife, but she will have none of that. The movie ends with Rose and Charles off towards California in a sputtering motor car, soon to be married, and musing about what sales opportunities she can find there.
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