Sunday, November 01, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Cowboy From Brooklyn (1938)

COWBOY FROM BROOKLYN is an exceedingly silly comedy about an animal-phobic singing cowboy (Dick Powell), made worthwhile by some pleasant musical numbers and the fun of watching a number of up-and-coming actors in small roles.

Stranded musician Elly Jordan (Powell) sings for his supper on a Wyoming dude ranch, where he's mistaken for a genuine singing cowboy by fast-talking New York agent Roy Chadwick (Pat O'Brien). Roy takes his discovery to New York, intending to launch him into a big career, but complications ensue due to Elly's fear of animals as well as a jealous cowboy who can't sing on key (Dick Foran).

The presentation of the story is almost painfully ridiculous, but all is forgiven during moments such as Elly and his cowgirl love Jane (Priscilla Lane) singing the Mercer-Whiting tune "Ride, Tenderfoot, Ride." (Whiting died during production, and the film's score was completed by Mercer and Harry Warren.) Powell has a couple other good tunes, and a fireside rendition of "The Last Roundup," along with Johnnie Davis, Candy Candido, and Harry Barris, is nicely done.

The film's supporting cast is quite fun. Lane is always charming, even when she's stuck with "cowgirl talk" like "git" and "reckon" for an entire movie. O'Brien apparently was trying to set world speed records for the delivery of dialogue. Ronald Reagan plays Roy's press agent, with Ann Sheridan in a couple of scenes as Roy's sister.

Jeffrey Lynn has a few lines as a newspaper reporter; later that year he received his big break as Felix in FOUR DAUGHTERS, the first of several films he made costarring Priscilla Lane.

Lane's parents are played by Emma Dunn and Granville Bates, while Hobart Cavanaugh and Elisabeth Risdon play Powell's mother and father. James Stephenson plays a hypnotist, with Rosella Towne as his daughter. Longtime Warner Bros. contract player John Ridgely plays a reporter, and Mary Field plays Powell's secretary.

The movie's short 77-minute run time is a blessing, although it appears from the trailer that a good portion of Ann Sheridan's role was left on the cutting-room floor. Watching this, it's easy to understand why Powell, who was outgrowing his standard "young juvenile" singing parts, became frustrated with his Warner Bros. assignments and left for new challenges.

COWBOY FROM BROOKLYN was directed by Lloyd Bacon. It was shot in black and white by Arthur Edeson, whose credits include a little movie called CASABLANCA (1942).

In 1948 COWBOY FROM BROOKLYN was remade as TWO GUYS FROM TEXAS, starring Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, and Dorothy Malone.

COWBOY FROM BROOKLYN has not had a DVD or video release, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies.

Dick Powell movies previously reviewed here at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933), FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933), 42ND STREET (1933), FLIRTATION WALK (1934), DAMES (1934), GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 (1935), VARSITY SHOW (1937), HOLLYWOOD HOTEL (1937), NAUGHTY BUT NICE (1939), CHRISTMAS IN JULY (1940), STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM (1942), IT HAPPENED TOMORROW (1944), MRS. MIKE (1949), RIGHT CROSS (1950), and THE TALL TARGET (1951).

2011 Update: This film is now available on a remastered DVD-R from the Warner Archive.

February 2017 Update: My review of the Warner Archive DVD is here.


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