One of the many gradually improving westerns Republic created for their biggest star in the early forties, "In Old California" was still very much in the 'B'-picture mold, but was a very entertaining tale of young Boston druggist Wayne relocating to Sacramento (echoing his real-life father's journey from Iowa to California, as a pharmacist), where his modern ideas and integrity (and the attentions from saloon girl Binnie Barnes) puts him at odds with 'town boss' Albert Dekker. While fundamentally a pacifist (Wayne diffuses potential confrontations with an ability to bend coins in his fingers!), Dekker, seeing him as a threat, decides to eliminate him by switching medicine with poison, discrediting him...but Wayne would soon have an opportunity to redeem himself...
The film benefits from the comic talents of two of Hollywood's best comedians, Edgar Kennedy (master of the 'Slow Burn') and Patsy Kelly (an old pro at sarcastic wisecracks), the teasing byplay between Wayne and Barnes, and his confrontations with Dekker (one of the 1940s' best 'villains', and a perfect foil for the young 'straight-arrow' leading man).
One of Wayne's more 'offbeat' oaters, but still a popular entry, during one of Wayne's busiest years!
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