Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Sugarfoot (1951)

Note: This post on the Randolph Scott Western SUGARFOOT (1951) is part of this weekend's blogathon celebrating the birthday of everyone's favorite Western hero, Randolph Scott. The blogathon is being hosted by Toby of 50 Westerns From the 50s; please visit his site here for lots of great links!

SUGARFOOT (1951) is a Randolph Scott Western released by Warner Bros. The movie, which has nothing to do with the 1957 Warner Bros. TV Western starring Will Hutchins, has been much harder for Scott fans to see than his other Westerns, and it's to be hoped that it will appear on DVD at some point in the future. It's not one of Scott's very best Westerns, but it's still plenty entertaining.

Scott plays Jackson Redan, a Southerner who goes West after the Civil War. He's soon nicknamed "Sugarfoot" due to his courtly manners and his status as a tenderfoot who has much to learn about the West.

Sugarfoot learns a great deal -- including how to properly wear a gun belt for a duel -- from dependable Fly-Up-the-Creek Jones (Arthur Hunnicutt). He'll need that wisdom as from the time he arrives in Arizona he knocks heads with Jacob Stint (Raymond Massey). Stint robs Sugarfoot and tries to injure or kill him multiple times, and most importantly the two men tangle over lovely Reva (Adele Jergens), singer at The Diana saloon.

SUGARFOOT starts out rather slowly, setting up Jackson Redan's relationships with various characters, who also include S.Z. Sakall (as the improbably named Don Miguel), Robert Warwick, Hugh Sanders, Hope Landin, and Hank Worden (in a nice role as "Johnny-Behind-the-Stove"). Hunnicutt's excellent sidekick and Jergens' initially icy singer help perk things up considerably, and the film picks up speed as it goes.

Other than the fact that his character has to learn a certain amount "on the job," so to speak, it's your typical Scott role: a courtly man who may face tough odds at times, but his intelligence, resourcefulness, and integrity pull him through, with his loyal friends by his side. Of course, "typical Scott" is a very good thing, and he is as enjoyable as always.

The courtship with Reva is particularly well done, with Reva not a stock character but a woman who wants to pull her own financial weight in the life she and Sugarfoot begin to plan together.

Reva also threatens to kill one of Sugarfoot's enemies if Sugarfoot doesn't return safely from a trip, and when Sugarfoot questions her she makes clear she's as genuinely tough about protecting him as he would be about her. Scott's amazed grin as he turns away from her at the end of their conversation is delightful. This is one fiery woman!  I would have enjoyed it if the movie had run a few minutes longer and devoted even more time to developing their romantic relationship.

Laura Wagner wrote about Adele Jergens for Films of the Golden Age, and here's more by Alan K. Rode of the Film Noir Foundation.

SUGARFOOT was directed by frequent Scott collaborator Edward L. Marin and shot in Technicolor by Wilfred M. Cline. The film is nicely scored by Max Steiner.

The script by Russell Hughes based on a novel by Clarence Budington Kelland. The film runs 80 minutes.

Sincere thanks to my fellow Westerns fan Jerry Entract for making it possible for me to see this hard-to-find film.


Blogger Rick said...

There is one connection between the movie and the Will Hutchins TV series... the theme song. I don't think the lyrics are heard in the movie, but the tune is the same and those familiar with the words can't help hearing them in their heads as the theme music plays. "Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, easy-lopin', cattle-ropin' Sugarfoot."

I'm enjoying the Scott blogathon. I love all kinds of movies but as I often say, and always mean, sometimes nothing will serve but a Randy Scott western.

4:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watched this the other day, Laura, and enjoyed it overall. It's a nice easygoing performance from Scott and I agree on the relationship with Jergens' character.
Only the rushed ending bothered me - it just wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly for my taste.


7:50 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much for that bit of information, Rick! The theme music seemed vaguely familiar but the TV show SUGARFOOT is one I'm not yet acquainted with, other than the actor's cameo role on MAVERICK. :)

It is great to see so many fans of Randolph Scott coming together thanks to the blogathon!

Colin, glad you were able to see this too. I'm often a fan of shorter movies but this film is one where I think a few extra minutes would have been a good thing, for both the Scott-Jergens relationship and the ending.

Best wishes,

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved your review. I have seen this one and like it a lot. Good cast too.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Looks good, I like Adele and find she was better than most of the stuff she got so this seems like a nice meaty role for her. Wagner's piece says it's her best one.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

"Cuddles" can sometimes get on my nerves, but I have to say this was one role that goes on my "well done" list.

I agree that I could have happily lived with some more time with the couple.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Vienna! It's a nice film, I'll be going back to it. :)

Hi Kristina! This was definitely one of Adele's better parts; she had a couple other good ones like TRY AND GET ME but I think this really showed what she could do given the opportunity. It's a shame her career didn't develop more strongly, as she had both talent and looks.

Best wishes,

5:59 PM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

So glad I was able to make this film available, Laura. Many thanks for the credit-appreciated.
I guess, like a few of Scott's Warner films "Sugarfoot"is not among his best but it is still highly entertaining.
A pristine DVD restoration would enhance it for me.
Very much enjoyed your review.

1:03 AM  
Blogger Jeff Flugel said...

I'm a fan of the SUGARFOOT TV series but have yet to see this film. Since I'm so used to seeing Scott as a seasoned cowpoke and a dab hand with a gun, his tenderfoot role here sounds like a nice change of pace. There must be some issues involved otherwise you'd think Warner Archive would have released a nice copy of this by now...hopefully they'll get around to it someday.

Thanks for the great review!

4:31 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank *you*, Jerry, I couldn't have seen it without you! :) I agree, I would jump at the chance to watch it again in a beautiful print.

Caftan Woman, I agree -- there are times I tend to wince when I see Cuddles coming, though I have to admit he has added well to some other films -- this film falls in the latter group, as he underplayed very nicely here and kept his mannerisms well under control. I was pleasantly surprised.

Jeff, I have wondered if there is some rights issue related to the TV series, although they're both Warner properties. It seems like I even heard at one point the Warner Archive has already released all the Scott Westerns they have available to release, which if that is accurate is a disappointment. Let's hope it will be coming in the future.

Best wishes,

4:39 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Nice to read about this here. I still have not seen this it yet, one of three post-46 Scott Westerns on my want list. As with most people, it's this long missing one and also "Fighting Man of the Plains" and "Canadian Pacific"--on the latter two, I've been holding out for nice Cinecolor restorations like "The Nevadan" has but at some point I guess I'll bite the bullet and watch what there is. Expect to see "Sugarfoot" sooner.

With me too, a little of S.Z Sakall goes a long way, though with his long years at Warners, it's good to try to take him as he is. He can certainly be good at times, encouraging that you thought he didn't hurt things here.

Adele Jergens is something else entirely--I'm keen to see her in a good role and sounds like she had a good one here.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Blake, I think you'll enjoy Adele Jergens in this. It's a very good part.

Sure hope the films you mentioned come out on DVD at some point!

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment, know this is a busy week for you. TTYS!

Best wishes,

7:43 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Laura, I saw this one a year or so back - it has been shown on TV in the UK several times, so I was quite surprised to hear that it is an elusive title in the US. Strange how these things vary between countries (though, having said that, it doesn't seem to be out on DVD here either). I remember quite enjoying it - and also enjoyed your review - I like your description of Scott's "courtly manners". Will watch out for more of his films!

3:21 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Judy,

It's so nice to hear from you! I'm glad you were able to see this in the UK and that you enjoyed it also. :)

I'll be reviewing more Scott films here in the near future!

Best wishes,

5:24 PM  

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