Sunday, June 22, 2014

Legends (?) of the West! ...And Coming DVD Review!

Our popular culture overflows with “Legends of the West”…
John Wayne. ('Nuff said!)

Marshall Matt Dillon (Gunsmoke).

Paladin (Have Gun Will Travel).

Ben Cartwright (Bonanza). 

Bat Masterson. 

Wagon Train.
Maverick.  (His theme song even DESCRIBES him as a "Legend of the West")! 

Even Quick Draw McGraw…
But, come back on Thursday, June 26, 2014, for the spectacle of two “New York Tough Guys”, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, taking their talents to the Oklahoma Territory, in a film plucked from “Hollywood’s Greatest Year”, 1939! 

We don’t do enough “Looong DVD Reviews” these days, so be here when we examine “The Oklahoma Kid”, with Cagney and Bogart... Yes, really! 

UPDATE:  You can go there RIGHT NOW!

It’s enough to make you actually accept Dean Martin as a “Legend of the West”!  

"When the MOON hits YOUR EYE, like a big PIZZA-PIE... That's a WES-TERN!"
And all of you animation enthusiasts, please join us too, because there will be one or two references to classic Looney Tunes contained therein, as well!


Anonymous said...

The 1930's saw a boom in low-budget "B" westerns, but a slump (with some notable exceptions) in big budget "A" westerns. 1939, Hollywood's legendary "golden year," represented a sort of renaissance for the latter.

Stagecoach got John Wayne promoted from the "B" list to the "A" list; Jesse James started a fad for whitewashed biographies of famous outlaws; DeMille's Union Pacific was an epic about the building of the railroad; Frontier Marshal starred Randolph Scott as Wyatt Earp; and Dodge City even established Errol Flynn as a western star. (You would think that Flynn would be as out of place in a western as Cagney or Bogart, but he actually made a fair number of them.)

Rosemary Lane's sister, Priscilla, co-starred with Cagney and Bogart in The Roaring Twenties (a more conventional vehicle for both stars) that same year. Priscilla also co-starred in Cowboy from Brooklyn (a title that could almost describe the casting of The Oklahoma Kid) in 1938. That comedy was apparently a spoof of the "singing cowboy" fad, with Dick Powell as a singer who becomes a western movie star, although he is afraid of horses and can't ride or shoot.

Anonymous said...

Cagney was reportedly annoyed by all the comments from critics about "What is HE doing in a western!?" Cagney owned a ranch and was actually a good rider.

Still, his "urban gangster" image did seem to make him an odd choice. (But not as odd as casting him as Robin Hood, which almost happened.)Like casting Gary Cooper (instead of Cagney) as General Billy Mitchell, or John Wayne as Genghis Khan. In this case, though, it (IMHO)) worked out OK, maybe because The Oklahoma Kid doesn't take itself too seriously.


Joe Torcivia said...

That’s a nice summary of Western movies circa the 1930s! More about it than I’ll admit to knowing, and much appreciated!

Though, it’s easy to see why “Stagecoach” was such a standout – and, as they say today, a “game-changer”.

I did not know that Rosemary Lane, and Priscilla Lane were sisters. And, oddly, the first mention I ever heard of Rosemary Lane was in that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he plays “Guess-Who” with Elmer Fudd, and among Fudd’s guesses was “Wosemawy Wane”!

Joe Torcivia said...


I would imagine that regular audiences in general also wondered “What is HE doing in a western!?”. Back before I first saw it, that wasn’t very far from *my* reaction as well.

But, I completely agree that “The Oklahoma Kid” works precisely BECAUSE it doesn’t take itself too seriously. In fact, there’s a particular scene where I directly compare Cagney, as “The Kid”, to Bugs Bunny, in what he does, and how he chooses to accomplish it!

I’m sure you know the exact scene I’m referring to. Anyone who doesn’t will find out on Thursday!

Anonymous said...

"Come on, you mavericks! The land rush is on!" And they all frantically run out without questioning him. Just as Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam would get caught up in the moment and play along with Bugs.


Joe Torcivia said...

As much as I shy away from “Spoilers” around here (…and, hey, it’s only 3 days until I reveal it in the post anyway, so nothing’s really spoiled), you’ve got it, TC!

I laughed out loud that that bit! Not to mention Cagney’s disposal of the “last man who didn’t vacate”!

Comicbookrehab said...

Ah, "The Oklahoma Kid"...the one refrenced by Joe Pesci in "Goodfellas", which prompted him to shoot Michael Imperioli in the foot when he told him to "Dance!" :)

Anonymous said...

The Bugs Bunny-type gag was mentioned in a TIAH post about the Warner Archives Collection in April, so I figured it was no secret anyway.

Joe Pesci referencing a western seems even more incongruous than Cagney appearing in a western in the first place. :)


Joe Torcivia said...

Sure enough, that’s true, TC. I DID mention the gag in the comments section of this post. And, did so in response to you!

…I guess I should actually read my own stuff!

And, to both TC and ‘Rehab, that IS indeed an unusual reference to “The Oklahoma Kid”.

Well, at least I followed-through on finally completing the “Oklahoma Kid” post that I promised back then. I most likely “spoiled” the gag, thinking I’d never get around to completing the post!

Let’s see if I ever get around to some of the other, even older ones that have been written but face the formidable task of formatting and illustrating, like “Stagecoach”, “The Strawberry Blonde” (Cagney), and “20 Million Miles to Earth”! THAT LAST ONE, written back in 2011, will be a real killer to do! No promises on those!

Comicbookrehab said...

That 'Goodfellas' reference in question:

"What's that movie where Bogart played the cowboy?"


"'Shane'?!...'Oklahoma Kid'! That's it! 'Oklahoma Kid'! Dance for me, Spider! Dance for the Oklahoma Kid!"

After shooting him, Pesci says, "Well, that got him moving!...Hey! Don't make me feel bad that I shot ya'!"

Joe Torcivia said...

Oh, that is GREAT, 'Rehab!