Thursday, July 02, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Dudes Are Pretty People (1942) - A ClassicFlix DVD Review

DUDES ARE PRETTY PEOPLE (1942) is the first title in a new three-film set from ClassicFlix, The Complete Hal Roach Streamliners Collection, Volume 2: The Westerns.

Like the previously released The Complete Hal Roach Streamliners Collection, Volume 1: The Tracy & Sawyer Military Comedies, these "Streamliners" are all short comedies in the range of 43 to 48 minutes, roughly double the length of a two-reeler short. There were a grand total of 22 Streamliners produced by Hal Roach from 1941 to 1948.

All three of the Western Streamliners star two young actors from show business families, Jimmy Rogers (son of Will) and Noah Beery Jr. In the films their characters go by the actors' real names, Jimmy and Pidge (Beery's nickname, given to him by George M. Cohan's sister Josie).

DUDES ARE PRETTY PEOPLE gets off to a good start with the first sequence taking place in the Alabama Hills outside Lone Pine, California. There's a terrific scene where Jimmy and Pidge (or perhaps their stuntmen) round up some bulls while riding pell-mell through the hills, whooping at the top of their lungs. Perhaps it wouldn't mean as much to another viewer, but watching that take place somewhere I've been so many times was a little slice of movie joy.

Also adding to the fun was the fact that the final shootout was filmed in another location I've visited on multiple occasions, Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth.

The plot, such as it is, concerns a young miss (Marjorie Woodworth) staying at a dude ranch who is thrilled by "real cowboys"! Pidge falls for her, but Jimmy can see she's not sincere about a long-term relationship and does his best to stop Pidge from getting his heart broken.

There's a little bit here of the Tim Holt-Richard "Chito" Martin dynamic we'd later see in RKO's postwar "B" Westerns, with Pidge as the ladies' man and Jimmy trying to keep him out of trouble.

So far I'm finding I quite like the Streamliners. They're hardly great art, yet there's good stuff to be found in each one; in this film another amusing sequence which made me chuckle involved a singer (Alberto Morin) creatively dubbing Jimmy, who's been hired to sing at the dude ranch.

The movies are short enough -- this one is just 43 minutes -- that they're over before the lightweight plots can wear out their welcome.

Another plus is that they're stocked with solid casts who know what they're doing. In this case the supporting cast includes Paul Fix, Marjorie Gateson, Paul Hurst, Grady Sutton, Sarah Edwards, and Russell Gleason (son of James and Lucile).

DUDES ARE PRETTY PEOPLE was directed by Hal Roach Jr. It was filmed in black and white by John W. Boyle.

The DVD picture is soft at times but overall is quite acceptable, with no major defects, and it has a strong soundtrack. I should note that the Streamliners are being released in the ClassicFlix Silver Series, which is meant to get relatively rare films out of the vaults and affordably into the hands of collectors without the added expense of major restoration work.

I'm looking forward to watching more Streamliners from Volumes 1 and 2, and I'll be reviewing the new Volume 3: Taxi Comedies soon as well.

Later this summer, Volume 4: Musicals will be out in August, and Volume 5: Pitts & Summerville Plus Other Rarities is coming in October.

Thanks to ClassicFlix for providing a review copy of this DVD.


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