John O'Hanlan and Harley Sullivan (Stewart and Fonda), two creaky cowboys just this side of elderly, ride up from Texas, the latter the most boring conversationalist in western history. The opening dialogue sets the tone of the film as Sullivan runs off at the mouth about his dogs, his
family, and such. When he finally takes a breath, his travelling companion manages to blurt out, "We're in the Wyoming territory and you've been talkin' all the way since Texas.... Say another word the rest of the day and I'm gonna kill ya!" The movie never gets that funny again.
O'Hanlan's dead brother has left him the Cheyenne Social Club, but the minute our upright hero learns it's a brothel he wants to close the joint, or at least turn it into a plain saloon. The townspeople are outraged. Soon enough O'Hanlan encounters more troubles when he reneges on this original
plan and has to deal with the town villain (Wilke). The fadeout takes place as the two men ride off into the distance, with Harley bending John's ear once again. Anyone with a mite less patience would have gunned Fonda down immediately.
Shirley Jones, hoping to evoke memories of the Oscar-winning slut she portrayed in ELMER GANTRY, plays the madame and among her charges are Langdon, Devry, DeBord, Russell, and Joseph, cult star of THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. This could have been a minor classic, but Barrett, who wrote SHENANDOAH,
BANDOLERO, and FOOL'S PARADE for Stewart, came a cropper with the screenplay. Kelly's direction was spongy and the whole thing falls flat. The Stewart and Fonda duo and some of the supporting cast, however, do manage to bolster the film slightly. Clothier's superb cinematography helps as well.
Otherwise, it's a ho-hummer too genial to have any bite.
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