SON OF PALEFACE (director/writer: Frank Tashlin; screenwriters: Joseph Quillan/Robert L. Welch; cinematographer: Harry J. Wild; editor: Eda Warren; music: Jack Brooks/Lyn Murray; cast: Bob Hope (Peter ‘Junior’ Potter Jr.), Jane Russell (Mike ‘The Torch’ Delroy), Roy Rogers (Roy Barton), Bill Williams (Kirk), Lloyd Corrigan (Doc Lovejoy), Paul E. Burns (Ebenezer Hawkins), Chief Yellow Cloud (Iron Eyes Cody), Harry von Zell (Mr. Stoner, banker), Jonathan Hale (Gov. Freeman); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert L. Welch; Paramount Pictures; 1952)
“One of the rare sequels that is clearly better than the original.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
One of the rare sequels that is clearly better than the original. The Paleface of 1948 was a smashing box office hit that also starred Bob Hope and Jane Russell. The director Norman Z. McLeod was replaced in the sequel by Frank Tashlin (“Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”/”Artists and Models”/”The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell”), who was cowriter on the original. Hope again plays a cowardly braggart named Peter ‘Junior’ Potter. He loudly arrives by auto on the frontier as the tenderfoot Harvard grad dressed in cowboy gear. Jane Russell plays the sassy and sexy Mike ‘The Torch’ Delroy, secretly an outlaw gang leader who sings in the saloon she owns called The Dirty Shame. Roy Rogers is Roy Barton, the federal marshal pursuing The Torch and her love interest along with Junior.
Junior Potter, clad in Harvard gear, returns out West after a delayed 14 year graduating period to Sawbuck Pass, California, as the idiot son to retrieve the fortune in gold he thinks his old rascal Indian fighter and prospecting father, known as Paleface, stashed away for him. Meanwhile the governor has arranged for his top federal agents, Roy Barton (Roy Rogers) and Doc Lovejoy (Lloyd Corrigan), to go undercover as operators of a medicine show in Sawbuck Pass to arrest a gang of stagecoach robbers in the northern California area led by someone called The Torch. Junior awaits a lynching party when the angry townsfolk expect to get paid the money Paleface cheated them out of and they learn there’s no gold in the chest inherited. Also, the Indians under Yellow Cloud go on the warpath to get Junior’s scalp because Paleface cheated them. Paleface’s old prospecting partner, Ebenezer Hawkins, teams with Junior to locate the hidden gold, while Mike romances Junior to get his gold and Junior romances her for her money and looks. Roy, as the singing cowboy, figures out that Mike is The Torch, and romances her to get the proof she’s the wanted outlaw he’s after.
Tashlin fills it with funny sight gags (Hope in bed with Roy Rogers’ wonder horse Trigger), slapstick, physical jokes and chases. There’s plenty of lively songs, and the former animator and frequent Jerry Lewis collaborator, Tashlin, in his first solo director’s gig, is marvelously adroit in spoofing the Western and creating a very funny film.
REVIEWED ON 4/15/2007 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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