Feudin\’, Fussin\’ and A-Fightin\’ Film Details
Overview: A fast-talking salesman is “kidnapped” by a town, which intends to use him in its annual race with a rival community.
Tagline: It’s the Jest of the West!
Review: Maybe you didn’t catch Don’s(Wilber)spoof of Huey Long’s ‘share the wealth, every man a king, a chicken in every pot’ political campaign of the ’30s. Don substitutes a horse and a bottle of his snake oil hair tonic for Huey’s promises in his acceptance speech, after having been unanimously decreed mayor of the tiny dusty hamlet of Rimrock, replacing restaurant owner Maribel(Marjorie Main)..This kidnapped former traveling salesman was awarded this honor for winning the annual Bench County marathon from its arch rival Big Bend, apparently the only two towns in this very sparsely populated county. Also, he was clearly knowledgeable of political history and legal matters(strange for a mere traveling salesman for snake oils). Universal reteamed Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbridge from the previous year’s successful rural comedy “The Egg and I”, with a new first-billed star:Donald O’Connor, and a new girlfriend for him in Penny Edwards, in a rural western romantic comedy. Universal would continue to pair Marjorie with Percy or his successors in a yearly series through ’57, with future titles always beginning with Ma and Pa Kettle, resurrecting their character’s names from “The Egg and I”. In the present film, they are also essentially Ma and Pa Kettle in all but name, although they aren’t officially married. Apparently, the decision to resurrect their Kettle identity wasn’t made until after this film was finished. As another reviewer pointed out, Wilber’s relationship with the horse Jasper, his ‘roommate’ in the town livery stable where Wilber was essentially incarcerated, looks like a precursor for Don’s future popular series with Francis ‘the talking mule’. This was my introduction to Penny Edwards(as Libby): a vivacious young blond with singing and dancing talent. She made winsome bait to help convince Wilber to stay a while in Rimrock and hopefully win the annual marathon for the town.(seems all the young men had left this dead end community!). Eventually, he takes the bait after considerable resistance against his captors.Their up and down relationship hits a high point when she follows him outside into a dark Main Street,following a low point at a party. She initiates a lengthy street song and dance routine with Wilber to the ’20s hit “Sposin”, demonstrating her excellent singing voice and stage dancing talent. She later engineered the stampede to have him replace her mother, Maribel, as town mayor, by spreading the rumor that rival Big Bend had offered him their mayorship. Penny was mostly cast in westerns, including the occasional musical comedy, in her Hollywood and TV careers, and was a popular TV pitch girl. Like Donald, seems like she should have had a much more prominent film career. Don(Wilber) has a lengthy dance sequence, including tap dancing, by himself,locked up in that livery stable, while singing the ’20s hit “Me and My Shadow”. At times, we see his inflated shadow dancing, and sometimes,clearly his shadow is dancing independently from Don’s action. This spooks him, and he dives through the paper wall where his shadow is seen, foreshadowing his similar dive through the thin set wall in his notable solo “Make ‘Em Laugh”skit, in “Singing in the Rain”. I disagree with several reviewers who say the humor in this film was flat, due to poor script and direction. We had a great primarily physical comedian in Don, and a great verbal comedian in Marjory, and they did their normal thing well. Actually, Don exhibited outstanding combined physical and verbal comedy in his failed attempt to interest the patrons of Maribel’s restaurant in his hair tonic. His high point in physical comedy related to his marathon run, where he was barely conscious due to lack of sleep, staying up all night to tend his sick horse friend. He required the stimulus of a series of antagonistic animal encounters(rattlesnake, porcupine, skunk) to keep him interested in the race instead of sleeping, a chance reversal of a route arrow by a crow, and a topical dose of his hair tonic near the end to power him past his adversary at the last second: an extended slapstick performance worthy of Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Red Skelton or The Three Stooges, for example.Of course, the end result was quite predictable. Of course, the screen play is quite daffy, but that was normal for most musical comedies of this era. Burton Lane and Al Dubin composed the title song, heard at the beginning and end. One criticism I have is the title, which i feel suggested an unrealized level of violence and antagonism.”We Love Wilber” would perhaps have been more appropriate, in line with Don’s later MGM film: “I Love Melvin” You can currently view this film in its entirety on You Tube. I much enjoyed it and consider it one of Don’s best post-Peggy Ryan films.
Country: United States
Duration: 78 min
Also known as: Besos, balas y batacazos,Feudin’, Fussin’ and A-Fightin’,O Grande Prêmio,O Grande Campeão,Kilpajuoksu lännessä,Alla tiders champion,The Wonderful Race at Rimrock