Someone is selling guns to the Indians and in order to find the culprit Calamity Jane and a secret agent go undercover posing as man and wife. When the agent is killed Jane recruits a new husband -- none other than innocent dupe "Painless" Peter Potter, a totally inept dentist and confirmed coward who's main goal is to leave the barbaric west far behind. When their wagon train is attacked by the Indians it's Jane's sharpshooting that saves the day, but she gives the credit to Potter making him an instant hero to the townspeople and instant target to both the Indians and the gunrunners.Written by
The movie, as I recall, was a smash hit, along with the catchy "Buttons and Bows" musical number. It's also one of Hope's best roles. He's Painless Potter, dentist extraordinaire; just don't let him anywhere near your teeth, or anything else, for that matter.
As bumbler-in-chief of about everything, Painless muffs one funny challenge after another, as fashioned (in part) by the imaginative Frank Tashlin. There's also a couple of Bob's gag writers credited, so the one-liners fly as fast as Tashlin's sight gags (for example, the occasional comic strip blurbs cartoonist Tashlin was noted for). At the same time, the complicated plot is just a handy rack for Hope to hang his polished shtick on. And catch that final gag with Bob's breaking character with an aside to the audience that just about sums things up.
But instead of Crosby to pair up with, Bob has the luscious Jane Russell, and while she may not be as funny as Bing, I love it when Painless mistakes an Indian for her on their wedding night. (Note how the screenplay marries them early on, thereby avoiding censorship problems. Note too how her buxom measurements are downplayed, likely a concession to the expected family audiences.)
I don't know if there's a downside since it's a funnyman romp all the way. Maybe, for me, a downside is finding out from IMDb that Iron Eyes Cody, such a great Indian, is not an Indian at all, but was instead born in Italy. Oh well, it's all Hollywood make-believe anyway, so who cares since it's a darn amusing movie, Italian Indians or no.
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