Monday, July 04, 2011

Tonight's Movie: The Gal Who Took the West (1949)

THE GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST is 84 minutes of fun, a really delightful Western comedy which ranks with BUCCANEER'S GIRL (1950) as my favorite Yvonne DeCarlo film seen to date.

Lily Muldoon (DeCarlo) arrives in an Arizona frontier town to perform at the opera house built by super-rich General Michael O'Hara (Charles Coburn). She immediately meets up with the General's feuding grandsons, cousins Grant (John Russell) and Lee (Scott Brady), who both fall for Lily instantaneously.

Lily loves the idea of marrying a handsome, wealthy man who adores her -- but how does she choose between Grant and Lee, and more importantly, how does she keep them from killing each other when she decides?

This film is simply a whole lot of fun, creatively scripted to tell the story from multiple points of view. DeCarlo is marvelous as sassy Lily, who's completely honest about her situation being one a girl dreams of, yet she's so good-natured that somehow she doesn't seem a bit greedy. DeCarlo's repartee with Coburn is delightful, as is her ultimate solution for her problem. DeCarlo also has the chance to sing and dance two numbers, "Frankie and Johnny" and "Clancy Lowered the Boom."

Young John Russell is handsome as all get-out. I admit to having a crush on him as Marshal Dan Troop on LAWMAN, and it's fun to see him as a leading man a decade earlier than his TV series. I wish Russell had played the lead in more films; he was usually stuck in the supporting cast.

I had no idea until today that Scott Brady was the real-life brother of Lawrence Tierney! Brady is adequately amusing, but he's not in the same league with Russell in terms of providing romantic competition for DeCarlo's hand.

John Litel, Russell Simpson, Clem Bevans, and Myrna Dell are among the supporting cast.

THE GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST was directed by Frederick De Cordova, who also directed DeCarlo's BUCCANEER'S GIRL. The bright score is by Frank Skinner. DeCarlo's lovely gowns were designed by Yvonne Wood, who created the costumes for many of DeCarlo's Universal films.

THE GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST is not available on DVD or video, but it can be seen via Netflix Watch Instantly streaming or on the Encore Westerns Channel.

Five of the last half dozen movies I've seen were Westerns. Somehow they seem to go together with the 4th of July!


Blogger barrylane said...

I saw this film only once, as a boy at the time of its initial release. And, I agree completely about Russell and Brady. I found John fascinating. Could not believe he was just there to lose the girl. Too bad.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Neat that you saw this one when it came out! Hope you can see this one again, it may end a little differently than you recall. :)

Best wishes,

7:57 AM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Just saw a video of Yvonne singing Frankie and Johnny - she was great! And in color too.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Vienna! Yes, I saw there's a video of that number circulating on Twitter - great performance by Yvonne. :)

Best wishes,

9:11 AM  

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