When this movie started, directly after the credits had rolled, these words appeared on screen and a very serious voice spoke them:
If it’s Blood you want,
and Cold you want,
And the Call of the Klondike Nights,
if it’s Mud you want,
and Gold you want,
or what Robert Service would write,
Those lines disappeared from the screen, then, same voice and this line,
You’re in the wrong Theatre, brother!
I knew then I wasn’t watching what I thought I would be. With Randolph Scott, I figured on a western. An -er- western is what I got, though not quite as I’d supposed.
Randolph Scott is Honest John Calhoun(aka Gentleman Jack), a man who owns a saloon named after him up in Alaska during the Canadian gold rush in the late eighteen hundreds. He’s a con man that had fled Seattle just ahead of the law and Belle Da Valle(Gypsy Rose Lee), a dancer he’d romanced. Dinah Shore is along as Lettie Candless, a singer, and Charles Winnegar is her father, Pop Candless, the Emporium manager.
The two men are working a long range scam, based on predicting the weather(they have a man pretending to be a scientist who wants his report on weather patterns safely stored until it can be got off to the government. Honest John has been playing it straight to build his reputation and, when the local gambler pays Pop to see the report, then sets up betting with miners, he suggests a bank be set up to hold the gold dust until the winter freeze hits, the subject of the betting, and an honest man be the banker, knowing all the time he’d be the one. The plan is to take the dust and bail on the riverboat coming through a few days later.
The previous boat had dropped off Belle da Valle and her dancers, she finds Honest John(though she knew him as Gentleman Jack in Seattle), and rekindles their relationship, albeit with a suspicious eye on him.
Things don’t go as planned, with a variety of cross and double cross, all done with a bit of humor.
This was called a musical by one review(a really bad one), but it doesn’t come across as one. I always pictured musicals as having people break out in song and dance in the street, at home, wherever. Dinah Shore sings several songs and Gypsy Rose does a couple of song and dance numbers with her troupe. But all are done in the framework of a show on the Emporium stage.
Not nearly as bad as the review painted it, nevertheless an, at times, slightly silly movie. Randolph Scott did much better in numerous other films.