The movie was made by Cooper's own production company, International Pictures, and is the only film which Cooper produced. In it we see a refreshingly different Gary Cooper, one who happily and very cleverly spoofs his own, slow-talking Western persona. He is brilliant and is ably backed up by his strong cast of co-stars.
PlotThe plot involves the mistaken identity of an out-of-work cowboy, Melody Jones, played by Cooper, who has the misfortune to have the same initials on his saddle as the dangerous outlaw, Monte Jarrad, played to the hilt by Dan Duryea.
Melody is inept with firearms and gets caught up in various chases and shootouts with the outlaw band and a posse. The love interest, Cherry De Longpre, is played by Loretta Young who transfers her affections from the outlaw to Melody and ensures a happy ending.
ProductionThe movie is adapted from from the 1943 novel 'Useless Cowboy' written by Alan Le May, who also wrote 'The Searchers', .
Shooting was centred at the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth, California where Gary Cooper had a Western town built to represent Paynesville. The town was reused many times in subsequent films, particularly 'B' Westerns.
Loretta Young was advised by her doctors to take it easy during filming as she was pregnant at the time.
This was Dan Duryea.'s third film with Gary Cooper, although his first appearance in a Western.Gary Cooper seems to thoroughly enjoy making fun of his own image. He played in 'The Virginian' in 1929 and would go on to win his second Oscar as the brave Marshall in 'High Noon' in 1952. He didn’t enjoy the task of producing and apparently was somewhat taken aback when told that Young’s costumes would cost $175 each, which he couldn’t understand because they were supposed to be simple clothes and he wanted to buy them for $7 at a store.
The script by Nunnally Johnson is very clever, with tongue firmly in cheek. It is played as a very self-aware western b-movie, with all the cliches and set pieces you would expect from the genre. The poor quality indoor back projection during riding scenes is a shock at first until we realise it is done deliberately badly. Our first intimation that this is a very different type of Western is the wording of the "Wanted" poster right at the movie's start: "Monte Jarrad, often in the company of Uncle Roscoe something."
Main CastGary Cooper … Melody Jones
Loretta Young … Cherry de Longpre
William Demarest … George Fury
Dan Duryea … Monte Jarrad
Frank Sully … Avery de Longpre
Don Costello … Leo Gledhill
Walter Sande … Ira Waggoner
Russell Simpson … Pop de Longpre
Arthur Loft … Sheriff
Willard Robertson … Luke Packard
Ray Teal … Kriendler
Lane Chandler … Boone
CreditsDirector … Stuart Heisler
Producer … Gary Cooper, Walter Thompson (assoc. producer
Screenplay … Nunnally Johnson
Original Novel … Useless Cowboy' by Alan Le May
Cinematography … Milton R. Krasner
Music ... Arthur Lange
Format … B & W
Distribution Company … RKO Radio Pictures
Release Date … June 20, 1945
Running Time … 90 minutes