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High, Wide and Handsome

Film shapes up as a $1.9 million western, although possessed of all the elements to have made it a saga of Pennsylvania oilwell pioneering. Something went wrong on scripting and production from what was, undoubtedly, an intriguing script on paper.

With:
Irene Dunne Randolph Scott Dorothy Lamour Elizabeth Patterson Raymond Walburn Charles Bickford

Film shapes up as a $1.9 million western, although possessed of all the elements to have made it a saga of Pennsylvania oilwell pioneering. Something went wrong on scripting and production from what was, undoubtedly, an intriguing script on paper.

Film’s title sounds like a musical or operetta, but it’s more of a melodramatic romance, with six songs by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, latter also credited for the original story and the screenplay. Wherein lies the film’s principal deficiency. It’s a cross-section of Americana tinged with too much Hollywood hokum.

As a result, High, Wide, after teeing off vigorously, flounders as it progresses, and winds up in a melodramatic shambles of fisticuffs, villainy and skullduggery which smacks of the serial film school.

Irene Dunne is too coy as the daughter of a medicine-show owner and Randolph Scott too forthright as her romantic vis-a-vis. And the menacing by Charles Bickford, at the helm of his hired plug-uglies, with Alan Hale as the villainous banker, is very tent-twent-thirt. Dorothy Lamour is rather heavy eye-laden for the nitery gal who ultimately repays the Scott-Dunne combo for previous kindnesses.

Rouben Mamoulian’s production is heavy-handed. While endowed with an elastic budget, save for the fighting scenes there’s little that’s spectacular or impressive about the result. The mob scenes are as much to the credit of the camera as to the direction.

High, Wide and Handsome

Production: Paramount. Dir Rouben Mamoulian; Producer Arthur Hornblow Jr; Screenplay Oscar Hammerstein II; Camera Victor Milner, Theodore Sparkuhl; Editor Archie Marshek; Music Boris Morros (dir.) Art Dir Hans Dreier, John Goodman

Crew: (B&W) Extract of a review from 1937. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: Irene Dunne Randolph Scott Dorothy Lamour Elizabeth Patterson Raymond Walburn Charles Bickford

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