Jack Nicholson playing Gabby Hayes is interesting, even amusing at times, but Hayes was never a leading man, which Goin’ South desperately needs.
Picture starts off promisingly enough with Nicholson as a hapless outlaw who makes it across the border but the posse cheats and comes across after him causing his horse to faint.
On his way to the gallows, Nicholson discovers an unordinary county ordinance that would allow him to go free if picked for marriage by a maiden lady in town. Up to now, Goin’ South is still going strong. But here it stops as lovely young Mary Steenburgen steps out of the crowd and agrees to marry the bearded, dirty horse-thief.
Why she should do this is never satisfactorily established in the script carrying the names of four writers. Ostensibly, it’s to get the manpower to help her mine her property for gold before the railroad takes over. But it never jells, as Nicholson continues to sputter and chomp, acting more like her grandfather than a handsome roue out to overcome her virginity.