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The plot is simple and formula: Charlie, the only blacksmith in town (Blocker) is going to leave because his mail-order bride turned out to be a hoax. The nervous townsfolk convince Sadie the saloon girl (Fabray) to portray the bride just long enough to let him down easy, leave town, then resume her normal life as a bar singer. Since the blacksmith doesn't drink, he'd never enter the saloon, so it's a perfect plan, right?
Jack Cassidy plays Sadie's nasty sometime-boyfriend Roger Hand who the gang try to pass off as wanted criminal Panama Jack. In a great 'showdown' scene, blind-as-a-bat bounty hunter Blaze Kittrick (Elam) draws down on innocent Indian Tom (Rooney) with hysterical results!
Blocker and Fabray fall for each other in the end (naturally) , but the path to their eventual nuptials is a comedy gold-mine with a lot of laughs and heartfelt warm. A true gem of a minor "B" film that finally, after years of waiting, I have a DVD of the movie from an Australian source! Hopefully someday a big-wig at Universal will see the light of day and release it to the public. You want a copy? Ioffer.com has them for sale (me too!).
Whenever Charley Bicker (Blocker) isn't on screen, the supporting players have a good time hamming it up, with Jim Backus, Mickey Rooney, Wally Cox and Noah Beery, Jr. leading the charge. Jack Elam flits in and out of the story as a hilarious blind gunslinger on the trail of a thousand dollar bounty for outlaw Panama Jack. The town folk come to rely on Kittrick (Elam) to run saloon gal Sadie's (Nanette Fabray) suitor out of town to grease the skids for Bicker's romance.
I got the biggest kick out of Mickey Rooney uttering some self deprecating lines as they relate to his own matrimonial history (married eight times!!!). The first time was when he saw the wrong mail order bride get off the train, stating that he 'wanted one of those'. The better gag was when he offered to tell Charley about all the trouble he's had with women. I bet that line dredged up a lot of memories, as he was with wife number seven at the time. I still can't get over Ava Gardner being his first.
There are also a number of sight gags you'll have to keep your eye out for. I liked the sign in the barber shop providing double duty with 'Special Rates for Funerals', along with the Calico saloon featuring 'Whiskey - 10 cents; Good Whiskey - 15 cents'. What the heck, be a big spender for the extra nickel.
For all you Bonanza fans who couldn't get enough of Hoss Cartwright, this is an entertaining family Western which manages to sidestep the issue of saloon gal Sadie's real profession; at one point she calls herself a dance hall singer and dancer. She fesses up to her shady history with Charley in a later scene by referencing her 'bad' past, but it gets glossed over pretty quickly with Charley's blasé attitude. Sadie keeps Charley and the viewer up in the air about what she'll really do when it comes to walking down the aisle, but if you've seen enough of these kinds of stories, there's only one way it could turn out. And it does.
A great supporting cast completes the ensemble of mostly famous TV faces at the time. Most of them, completely realizing that the material is beneath them, add extra oomph in their line delivery, making this a burlesque of the western genre, minus the usual plot lines that dominated them. This is at its best when the always delightful Nanette Fabray is on screen, especially when feigning "ladylike" behavior when around the prickly women of the town who stuck their nose up at her when they believed her to be a woman of ill repute but treat her different in her disguise.
Among those in the cast are Jim Backus, Wally Cox, Mickey Rooney, Henry Jones, Marge Champion and Jack Elam. They all do their best with the material they are given, but what has been proved time and time again, comedy is a much harder genre than drama. Getting people to laugh is not as easy as stirring up people's emotions, and if I had a laugh from this for each emotion that exists, I'd be a statue.
Watch for nostalgia.
Not late at night. it will put you to sleep.