Unlikely cowboys

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
Wm. Charles Morrow
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Unlikely cowboys

Unread post by Wm. Charles Morrow » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:28 pm

Last week, thanks to TCM, I saw Mary Pickford’s final star vehicle Secrets (1933). For those who aren't familiar with it, this is a highly episodic drama in which Mary, the product of a rich and stuffy New England family, falls in love with a handsome but poor young man. Her family disapproves, so they elope and join a wagon train. At that point, the movie becomes a Western.

Later, after her husband has established himself as a rancher, he and his hired hand ride off into town, leaving Mary alone in their cabin. She is menaced by outlaws, who rustle her husband’s cattle. He and his sidekick are riding back to the cabin when they see the cattle heading the other way, and the latter says: “Say boss, you wanna know somethin’? Them steers down there is yours.”

Okay, fair enough, but guess who plays the rancher and his man? Why dog my cats, it's them lonesome cowpokes Leslie Howard and Ned Sparks! I can’t recall seeing two more unlikely cowboys in any Western ever made, or at least, one that wasn’t intended as a comedy. Can you?
-- Charlie Morrow

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greta de groat
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Re: Unlikely cowboys

Unread post by greta de groat » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:49 pm

Eugene O'Brien is the husband in the silent version. Odder still, i just saw The Michigan Kid the other day with Conrad Nagel as the black-hatted gambler. Technically Alaska rather than "western" but still it was weird. Seems like i've seen Cliff Edwards as a cowboy more than once, which always leaves me scratching my head as to who thought that was appropriate.

And of course there is always Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney.

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Arndt
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Re: Unlikely cowboys

Unread post by Arndt » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:34 am

And German soccer player Paul Breitner in POTATO FRITZ (1976).

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075461/reference
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

R Michael Pyle
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Re: Unlikely cowboys

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:04 am

I just remember watching "Secrets" years ago and wondering at the time, "How could either of the leads allow such garbage to be released?!" It's simply abysmal.

Wm. Charles Morrow
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Re: Unlikely cowboys

Unread post by Wm. Charles Morrow » Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:29 am

greta de groat wrote:
And of course there is always Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney.

greta
Yes, we can't forget The Oklahoma Kid (try as we might?). Actually, it's rather enjoyable: the miscasting helps. The first time I saw it, when I was a teenager at a film club screening in Tulsa, it got a lot of laughs. When I saw it again on TCM a couple of years ago it struck me that if the Cagney and Bogart roles had been taken by conventional Western types it would be a perfectly okay, though routine, flick. But with them in it, it's a hoot!
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bobfells
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Re: Unlikely cowboys

Unread post by bobfells » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:03 pm

Ronald Colman does the cowboy shtick in THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH (1925).
But if there are cowboys, there have to be Indians:
Boris Karloff as Chief Pontiac in THE UNCONQUERED (1947).
Walter Hampden in a similar role in NORTHWEST MOUNTED POLICE (1940).
Bela Lugosi in THE DEERSLAYER (1920).
Henry B. Walthall in STRONGHEART (1913).
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greta de groat
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Re: Unlikely cowboys

Unread post by greta de groat » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:38 pm

bobfells wrote: Henry B. Walthall in STRONGHEART (1913).
There's a lot of unlikeliness in Strongheart. After all, Walthall is on the football team with Lionel Barrymore, Alan Hale, and Antonio Moreno.

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Dean Thompson
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Re: Unlikely cowboys

Unread post by Dean Thompson » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:01 pm

Montgomery Clift has always been one of my favorite actors. But though Red River is a wonderful film, I've never thought Clift an altogether convincing cowboy there; maybe it's his being in Wayne's shadow, or maybe it's his looks. I find him far more credible in The Misfits some thirteen years later.

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