• Warning: Spoilers
    I encountered this little B-Western in its natural habitat, as the bottom half of a double-bill on the big screen, and enjoyed it enormously. 'West of the Pecos' has its perfunctory genre moments, such as the 'dying cowboy' scene and the final shoot-out and siege, but at heart it's a cross-dressing comedy, based around the masquerade of star Barbara Hale in boy's clothing and the consequences that ensue when 'he' crosses the path of amiable but unobservant cowboy Robert Mitchum. It's not exactly intellectually demanding -- true to the tradition of farce, Mitchum, as Pecos Smith, discovers the youngster's true sex only when her long hair falls out of her hat, despite having rescued her from drowning and carried her soaking wet in his arms from the river! -- but the comic potential is brought out to the fullest extent, while the spitfire secondary romance between the French girl and the half-Irish Mexican sidekick provides a very funny counterpoint.

    It has to be said that the hilarity subsides somewhat once the sexual confusion is sorted out -- like Pecos, we rather miss the tomboy 'young squirt' -- and all the loose ends are tidied away with implausibly convenient ease for the finale. But I came out of this one with a broad grin from ear to ear and an added bounce to my step, in the awareness of having been thoroughly entertained. It's silly but it's fun.