Along Came Jones (1945)
“IT’S THE WEST AT ITS BEST! WITH ROOTIN’…TOOTIN’…SHOOTIN’ COOPER!”
Director: Stuart Heisler
Cast: Gary Cooper, Loretta Young, William Demarest
Synopsis: A good-natured saddle tramp traveling with his sidekick, is mistaken for a ruthless outlaw with a price on his head.
The laconic Gary Cooper (Wings, A Farewell to Arms) spoofed his own screen persona in Along Came Jones, his first and only attempt at producing a movie, and he displays a pleasingly wry sense of humour while doing it. Cooper plays the titular cowboy, a shy, bumbling rodeo rider who is useless with a gun. Riding into the town of Payneville with his sidekick George Fury (William Demarest — The Jazz Singer), Jones is mistaken for Monte Jarrad (Dan Duryea — Al Jennings of Oklahoma), a ruthless robber who has just picked up a gunshot wound after relieving a local stagecoach of its cargo of cash. The mild-mannered Jones, who’s mistaken for Jarrad purely on the basis that he shares the other man’s initials, takes a liking to the deference shown to him by the townspeople, without realising — or caring about — the reason for their behaviour. However, the law and a powerful local family want to bring Jarrad to justice — and they don’t care if that means shooting him down in cold blood.
Cooper’s love interest is the luminescent Loretta Young (Cause for Alarm!), and although it’s difficult to understand how one girl could fall for two such dissimilar characters, she does a good job. Duryea, still in the relatively early years of a screen career which would never really see him receiving the recognition he deserved, doesn’t get enough screen time here, and it would have been nice to see him and Cooper sharing a few more scenes. Cooper appears to have a whole lot of fun lampooning himself as a cowboy who might be slow, but is far from stupid.
(Reviewed 16th February 2014)