Friday, August 20, 2010

Colorado Sundown

This is the first singing Western I've watched and it may very well be the last: I have finally found a genre of Western movies that I do not like.

Rex Allen was the star of this 1952 black and white film but Slim Pickens, who plays his sidekick, was the ASJ connection (he was Mike the bartender in Exit from Wickenburg, and the sheriffs in The Man Who Murdered Himself, The Day They Hanged Kid Curry, and The Strange Fate of Conrad Meyer Zulick). In Colorado Sundown, his character's name was also Slim Pickens but--get this--the character's real name was Joshua! Although thinner, he was immediately recognizable and his voice was the same, too. Pickens does do some fancy riding in a few places in this movie, proving that he was indeed a rodeo star, as was mentioned in a bonus feature on another Western I watched some time ago.

Colorado Sundown apparently was supposed to be a comedy but to me, it came across as melodramatic and unbelievable. The plot is about a family who owns a lumber mill and forests and who want to cut down the trees, to the detriment of the cattle ranchers on the land below. The brother and sister inherit, or so they believe, a ranch, but to their dismay, there are other owners, too; one is a naive young girl who is accompanied by her African-American maid (played stereotypically, which was often uncomfortable to watch), and the other is Slim Pickens' hillbilly cowpoke.

Things get nasty and deadly about 35 minutes in, but they also get silly: a goat provides slapstick interludes and, during a heavy rainstorm when men are working frantically to prevent a levee from bursting, they suddenly burst into song, singing "Down by the Riverside." I burst out laughing. Fortunately, Colorado Sundown is only 66 minutes long.

Two bonus features do their part in the silliness department. Both are the first episodes in sci-fi serials. One is called Radar Men from the Moon, with Commander Cody, and the other is Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. Each was about 15 minutes long and was interesting to watch only to see what the mid-20th century view was of aliens from outer space.