19 April 2013 | bkoganbing
Mitchum with mission, Hale in drag
West Of The Pecos was the second of two Zane Grey novels that Robert Mitchum starred in for RKO before being drafted. He took the place of Tim Holt as RKO's movie cowboy because Holt was in military service. He even inherited Holt's romantic sidekick Richard Martin whom we all know as the ever popular Chito Gonzalez Bustamante Rafferty.
Before Roy Bean went West Of The Pecos there was no law and order there and such that existed was in the hands of the infamous Sawtelle Brothers, Harry Woods and Perc Launders who head the vigilante committee. So these guys operate with impunity pretty much. But when they hold up the stagecoach and kill Bill Williams who is Mitchum's friend, Mitchum gets himself a mission.
In the meantime meatpacking tycoon Thurston Hall is told by his doctor to get out in the good country and do some real exercise even if it's in the form of manual labor. So he packs off his daughter Barbara Hale and her French maid Rita Corday and leaves his lawyer Bruce Edwards who is Hale's intended and they move to a piece of ranch property in that area West Of The Pecos.
Mitchum and Martin rescue the party when they're stranded in the desert and Hale has taken to wearing male drag the best to avoid unwanted attentions from the rough and ready and horny cowboys. A large part of the humor is due to Mitchum taking her for a man. A lot like some of the humor in Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn film Sylvia Scarlett.
Of course Robert Mitchum went on to bigger and better things as he was shortly to be cast in The Story Of GI Joe and Tim Holt returned to making westerns with Richard Martin. West Of The Pecos is a nice B western with a good mix of action and humor.
But when I watch this and the film Nevada I often wonder if Mitchum had not gotten the big break for The Story Of GI Joe would he have continued as a B picture western star. Watch Nevada and West Of The Pecos and judge for yourself.