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Sunday, September 26, 2010


Just about everyone is at their best in this endearing bit of Hollywood Americana. Like its better-known musical cousin (ANNIE GET YOUR GUN/’50), this film has to invent some dramatic action once Annie appears fresh from the backwoods. (The real Annie led a happy, wildly successful & largely uneventful life with her husband/manager.) But the two treatments are quite different. Here, Annie doesn’t want to show up her handsome shooting rival, but he doesn’t mind a bit. In fact, he suggests they play up a phony feud. Good for the box-office, even if it makes him look like a vainglorious jerk. But the sham works so well it leads to some major misunderstandings. Barbara Stanwyck’s Annie is so natural & sympathetic, you fall just as hard as Buffalo Bill & Co. Moroni Olsen as Bill and Melvyn Douglas as his manager & Annie’s romantic standby fit their roles perfectly, as does Chief Thunderbird’s Sitting Bull. You’ll need your period blinders for some non-P.C. gags, but the script does let him save the day right at the end. In fact, George Stevens, who helms without pushing anything at us, turns the climax into a marvelous one-reel silent comedy chase. Just as he used to do with Laurel & Hardy.

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