The title role of "The First Traveling Saleslady" is played by Ginger Rogers. She portrays Miss Rose Gillray, a woman who sells corsets like she is a missionary selling salvation. But circumstances require that she make a change of vocation and she becomes a traveling saleslady peddling barbed wire to Texas ranchers. Talk about a challenge! She is assisted by Molly Wade, played by Carol Channing. I don't think audiences would have been familiar with Miss Channing when exposed to her in this role. She plays the part with energy and displays her unique vocal talents fully.
I am a fan of Miss Rogers, but I was disappointed by her performance in this silly comedy. When she first spoke, I questioned if the character was supposed to be drunk. I think she was deliberately changing her voice to create her character, but I am not sure. The portrayal is uneven--like the entire film. There were moments I enjoyed and others that had me scratching my head in perplexity.
Clint Eastwood (as Lt. Jack Rice) appears in one of his first credited roles as a fresh-faced Rough Rider who instantly falls for Molly. Barry Nelson plays an entrepreneur (Charlie Masters) who might be an intermittent love interest for Rose as he literally comes into and out of the film repeatedly.
The film contains some interesting content regarding a "Purity League" that safeguards the morals of society and some mentions of Women's Rights, particularly Women's Suffrage.
There are some cute references to how the country has changed, like the mention that traveling over the road at 12 MPH is thrilling.
James Arness portrays Joel Kingdom, owner of most of Texas it seems. When he is on screen, he has a strong presence and he energizes those scenes.
As a whole, this film drags at times and often seems a parody of the type of film it is. It feels like the direction is most to blame.
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