Go West (Edward Buzzell / U.S., 1940):

The pillars are from Ford (mainly The Iron Horse, with a special Stagecoach shoutout), taken apart for the Marx Brothers to cavort through. Dead Man’s Gulch is the sagebrush netherworld, Groucho (as "S. Quentin Quale") tries to fund a ticket by bilking Chico and Harpo at the train depot but is instead cleaned up by their all-strings-attached $10 bill bit. The plot -- prairie lovebirds (John Carroll, Diana Lewis) need their land deed recovered from the villains (Robert Barrat, Walter Woof King) before the railroad passes through -- takes up too much time and space. Still, there’s Harpo’s 20-gallon hat, June MacCloy’s basso profundo at the saloon, and the flaunted phoniness of this Old West ("This is 1870, Don Ameche hasn’t invented the telephone yet"). The totem pole at the Indian reservation sports greasepaint mustache and specs, Groucho lists the white man’s injustices to the chief: "Who put your head on a nickel and then took the nickel away?" (Answer: "Slot machine.") Then, to a buckskin maiden: "You get a canoe later, and I’ll paddle you." The great attraction is the runaway locomotive that jumps off its rails and cannibalizes itself for furnace lumber, in the process revealing the hand of phantom gagman Buster Keaton and planting an idea in Buñuel’s brain (Illusion Travels by Streetcar). Directed by Edward Buzzell. With George Lessey, Iris Adrian, and Tully Marshall. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home