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   ALONG CAME JONES (1945)


CAST
Gary Cooper
Loretta Young
William Demarest
Dan Duryea
Frank Sully
Don Costello
Walter Sande
Russell Simpson
Arthur Loft

DIRECTED BY
Stuart Heisler

PURCHASE


DVD


alongjonesbig.jpg
The Poster




Time: 90 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Western/Comedy/Romance


A clever little Western comedy that uses Cooper's trademark integrity and masculinity to garner laughs instead of awe. While his actions can be construed as heroic, once he spies the entrancing doe-eyed Young there's nothing honorable behind them. His character, Melody Jones, is a bumbling, washed-up rodeo rider drawn into the manhunt for a local outlaw, Monte Jarrad (Duryea), by the lovely Cherry (Young). His partner George (Demarest) wants nothing to do with the little lady, smelling trouble a mile away. Melody is desperate to be respected and is willing to go to any lengths to impress Cherry, eventually sacrificing his own safety to help her help Jarrad escape the long hand of the law. George does the only thing he can: continually rescue Melody from his clumsy, impetuous attempts to be the hero.

As the plot thickens, Cherry regrets her loyalty to Jarrad, an old-childhood friend, which is now threatening the life of a man she's beginning to fall in love with. Melody may be the worst gunslinger in the West, but he's smarter than he looks and has the heart and soul of a real man. If they could only escape Jarrad, who's not about to lose his girl or his money, and the posse, an ornery group looking for anyone to punish for Jarrad's crimes, they might have a chance to build a happy life together. The final gun battle has Jarrad and Melody battling each other, as well as the posse. Since Jarrad is a cold-blooded killer, you'd think he has the upper hand; however, Melody has Cherry on his side and she proves she's more than just a pretty face. This being as much of a romantic comedy as an action piece, the film ends with Cooper and Young in a passionate, sweet and slightly goofy embrace.

Those more familiar with Cooper as a stoic, respectable lawman may have a hard time enjoying the dopey, uncoordinated performance he gives here, but I found him charming, funny and still wholeheartedly masculine. He has great chemistry with both Young and Demarest, playing off her petite strength and his grumpy friendship to perfection. It's the average plot that keeps this from being a film to really remember.


"If there's anything in the world I like, it's getting saved from being shot."

The only real difference between this flick and the thousands of other Westerns is the depth of Young's role. She has the hardest part, forced to be honorable and deceptive at the same time. You have to like her despite her placing Cooper in between a rock and a gun-slinging posse. The fact that you do is a testament to her skill as an actress. Her looks don't hurt either, since most viewers would be hard-pressed to believe someone as lovely as Young could truly be a cold-hearted bitch. Demarest also shines in his typical crotchety sidekick role. No one complains with as much heart and humor. Without him, this film wouldn't be half as fun.

Except for the final gun battle, everything about this film, from the art direction to the editing, is pretty run-of-the-mill, classic Hollywood, Old West. There's nothing innovative going on here, but this story is more about the actors than their surroundings. ALONG CAME JONES is a comedy first, romance second and action-adventure a distant third, so explosion junkies beware. This film is about giving Cooper a chance to stretch his acting muscles and show he can be funny as well as honorable. A pleasant surprise.


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