28 November 2013 | bkoganbing
The divine hand of Providence
British comedian Jim Dale was starring in a lot of Walt Disney films that Dean Jones was apparently unavailable for in the Seventies. One of them was this western comedy Hot Lead And Cold Feet where Dale got to play three different roles where he tread on Alec Guinness territory.
Dale plays a father with two twin sons, one of them taken by their mother when she split from Dale. The one who stayed with Dale became a notorious gunfighter, the other was raised in Philadelphia and served in the army that General Booth started. I imagine that there were legal technicalities that prevented Disney Studios from outrightly saying it was the Salvation Army.
In any event the father fakes his own death and there is a will that leaves the holdings of an entire town to the winner of a race that the two sons have to participate in. So the missionary Dale finds out when he goes west with two young orphans Debbie Lytton and Michael Sharrett. It's a kind old west marathon with a pentathlon of sorts involved as well. Gunfighter Dale of course is ready to do in his missionary brother. But a certain divine hand of Providence seems to be watching over the missionary. Definitely has to be because he's also getting new school teacher Karen Valentine in the bargain.
Don Knotts as the sheriff and Jack Elam a notorious former outlaw whose best days are behind him provide a few laughs. Ever since Knotts was Barney Fife he was always being cast as comic authority figures. And there's Darren McGavin who has his own ideas about the Dale fortune should be used for.
With so many familiar and talented faces in the cast of Hot Lead And Cold Feet you know it's going to be good. Dale does a wonderful job investing the father and three sons he plays with a certain individuality in each role. This film is still good family entertainment.