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
Some men tamed the West with lightning guns...others with iron fists...but one woman held the West in the palm of her hand...lying, cheating, kissing, repenting and kissing again...from Virginia City to Cheyenne! See more »
George Cukor wanted John Gavin for an unspecified role. See more »
When Mabry is pursuing the wagons, shots of him from the front show his shadow going uphill to the right of screen. Shots of the wagons from the front show their shadows going to the left of the screen. This would indicate that they are going in opposite directions. See more »
Since westerns tended to be rather cheaply made in their heyday, it took colour a while to become the established component in the genre it eventually did as Technicolor gradually became more affordable during the forties.
When the 'psychological' western established itself in the fifties, films like 'The Gunfighter' and '3:10 to Yuma' naturally opted for black & white; likewise modern contemporary 'anti-westerns' like 'The Misfits', 'Lonely Are the Brave' and 'Hud'.
Meanwhile a smaller genre of jokey camp Technicolor westerns (dating back at least as far as 'Whoopee!' in 1930) emphasising exaggerated nineteenth century decor and costume had developed alongside it's more rugged siblings, probably culminating in 'Cat Ballou' in 1965 before Sergio Leone took up the baton.
Which brings us to 'Heller in Pink Tights', one of the adaptations of his work that Louis L'Amour particularly liked; the title change from 'Heller with a Gun' to 'Heller in Pink Tights' signalling the change in emphasis in its transfer from page to screen.
Director Cukor's only western, he gathered around him his trusted collaborators Eugene Allen, Harold Lipstein and George Hoyingen-Heune to produce a stunning-looking colour production with a stunning-looking blonde Sophia Loren in the title role and a once in a lifetime supporting cast including a smoothly villainous Ramon Novarro in his last movie. (Only Margaret O'Brien's voice is occasionally recognisable from her days as a child star fifteen years earlier; and who'd have then thought that she'd have had such a bust on her at 22!)
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