Jane Withers helps celebrate her town's fiftieth anniversary in spite of crooks planning a bank robbery.Jane Withers helps celebrate her town's fiftieth anniversary in spite of crooks planning a bank robbery.Jane Withers helps celebrate her town's fiftieth anniversary in spite of crooks planning a bank robbery.
Joseph E. Bernard
Lon Chaney Jr. in his second Jane Withers vehicle
1937's "Wild and Woolly" was a vehicle for 20th Century-Fox's second biggest child star, Jane Withers, who remained a lifelong friend of the biggest, Shirley Temple, but who is today probably recalled by most as 'Josephine the Plumber' in the long running series of Comet commercials on television. As popular as she was in the 30s and 40s her films have not received the kind of exposure that one would expect, and this title is a prime example, with such famous co-stars as Walter Brennan, recent Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner for 1936's "Come and Get It," and Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer, whose dreadful singing is as bad as ever (Jackie Searl also provides his share of amusement, especially by offering Jane her first screen kiss). Like Shirley's characters, Jane never seemed to have parents, usually an uncle or other relative, here with Brennan as her grandfather, a former bandit who later became an upright sheriff, his long running feud with the crooked town banker (Berton Churchill, already playing his best remembered character from 1939's "Stagecoach") has been going on so long that neither can remember how it started. The town plans a 50th anniversary celebration, but with some crooks planning to spoil the party by making sure the reenactment of a bank robbery becomes the real thing, it's up to Jane and Alfalfa to save the day. Among the villains is Lon Chaney Jr. as Dutch, bouncer at the local watering hole, who is called upon to perform the robbery disguised under a mask, in the second of his three Withers films, preceded by "Angel's Holiday," and followed by "Checkers." During his two years at Fox, the still relatively unknown Chaney made 30 features (4 of which his role was deleted prior to release), with "Wild and Woolly" one of only 8 in which he actually receives on screen billing.
- May 17, 2015
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