12 April 2007 | movingpicturegal
The Outlaw Helpmate
Somewhat lackluster period musical/adventure tale set in Australia, 1874 telling the story of a young lady named Hilda (played by Irene Dunne) who works as a servant for the wealthy Clarksons, sheep farmers, and dreams of being a great singer. An upcoming visit by Sir Julian, a famous composer arriving from London, drives jealous Mrs. Clarkson (an interfering biddy who fancies she can sing - but can't) to send away Hilda, so he doesn't hear Hilda has a good voice. Meanwhile, an infamous outlaw named Stingaree (Richard Dix) has just arrived in town and kidnaps Sir Julian, then poses as him at the Clarksons, where he meets Hilda a few hours before she is to leave. Hilda, thinking he's Sir Julian, sings for him - and Stingaree decides to help her with her career. She soon finds out he's an impostor, he ends up kidnapping her - um, and she likes it (and this is all in one night!). They are instantly in love - the fact that he is a bandit that the police are after means nothing to her. They are soon separated though - after Stingaree is arrested and Sir Julian takes Hilda to Europe to make her into a famous opera singer.
This is a somewhat mediocre film - though I did like Irene Dunne in this, Richard Dix gives a pretty hammy performance here (rolling eyes and all). It's not all bad, but I thought the story was just a bit hard to swallow - Hilda and the memory she just can't seem to forget: being carried off on horseback by a bandit/outlaw - I just don't know about this woman's choices. Some of the character actors in this do add a few bright moments here and there - especially Andy Devine, as Stingaree's sidekick "valet", who got me laughing in the few brief scenes he is in. The music in this is not too memorable either - all in all, so-so.