Barbed wire and corsets in the Old West
22 December 2015
Selling barbed wire on the road proves unexpectedly challenging for a former corset saleslady and her fashion model friend in this breezy western comedy starring Ginger Rogers. While quite clearly intended as a late career vehicle for the Oscar winning actress, it is the supporting players who come off best here. With all her pro-feminist ranting and raving, Rogers is actually a rather grating presence. Fortunately, Carol Channing is simply delightful as her model friend - full of energy and frequently funny, especially when singing the tune "A Corset Can Do a Lot for a Lady" with bizarre vocal changes throughout. James Arness also leaves an indelible impression as a charismatic Texas rancher intent on stopping barbed wire sales, and the film of course features Clint Eastwood's first true supporting (as opposed to 'bit part') role with a solid ten minutes or so of screen time. Barry Nelson as the 'true' inventor of the modern automobile, however, gets on the nerves just as much as Rogers and the repeated coincidental meetings between them come off as poorly scripted rather than spontaneous or funny. The entire film though has trouble in the humour department with groan-inducing lines such as "I can't understand a word he's snoring". Rogers and Channing apparently both detested the film and dubbed it 'Death of a Saleslady'. With a couple of bright songs, some memorable supporting performances and neat animated opening credits, the film is not as bad as all that, but their contempt for the film is also understandable.
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