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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Beautiful Blonde From Bashful Bend (Blu-ray)
The Beautiful Blonde From Bashful Bend (Blu-ray)
Kino // Unrated // November 1, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted November 15, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (1949) was the penultimate feature (and last American movie) of the great writer-director Preston Sturges, whose career burned white hot for barely four years, 1940-1944. But, during that time, Sturges created some of the best screwball comedies ever made, including The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels (both 1941), The Palm Beach Story (1942), and this reviewer's favored masterpiece, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (filmed in 1942, but not released until 1944).

He left Paramount, where he'd made those films and other gems, to make the inspired but financially unsuccessful The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1946), which brought Harold Lloyd's go-getter from the silent era into a much less certain postwar America. Sturges and Lloyd had creative differences after a promising start, and its executive producer, multi-millionaire Howard Hughes, seriously gummed up that film's release.

Sturges next went to work at 20th Century-Fox, beginning with the best of his later films, Unfaithfully Yours (1948). Brilliantly funny though it was, it was probably too dark and sophisticated for mainstream audiences, and its timing was bad. Rex Harrison, deliciously prolix with Sturges's dialogue, was having a not-so-funny extramarital affair with actress Carole Landis. When he refused to leave his wife, she committed suicide just as the picture was about to go into a release.

Fox gave Sturges one last shot with what must have seemed a sure-fire hit. Clearly inspired by Irving Berlin's hit 1946 Broadway musical, Annie Get Your Gun, The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend would star Fox's top attraction, Betty Grable is a comedy Western featuring a couple of catchy songs. Instead, it lost money (though not much) and, by Hollywood's unforgiving standards, Sturges was persona non grata. His last movie, made in France, The French, They Are a Funny Race ( Les Carnets du Major Thompson, 1955) was a hit there but apparently nowhere else. Near as I can tell, there's never been a home video release of that film, anywhere in the world. I for one would sure like to see it.

For many decades after, The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend was regarded as a disastrous career move on Sturges's part; even Grable hated the film. But while it's certainly not up to the level of Sturges's best four or five movies, it is, in fact, actually quite pleasant, funny, and uniquely Sturgesesque throughout, if a little meandering toward the end.


The slight plot concerns Winifred "Freddy" Jones (Grable), jealous saloon singer in the Old West who, in trying to shoot her philandering boyfriend, suave gambler Blackie Jobero (Cesar Romero), instead plugs the posterior of cantankerous Judge Alfalfa J. O'Toole (Porter Hall).

Beating a hasty retreat and accompanied by Latina companion Conchita (Olga San Juan, in a role that reads like it was intended for Carmen Miranda), assumes the identity of a recently deceased schoolteacher in the town of Bashful Bend. There, she's charmed by wealthy gold mine owner Charles Hingleman (Rudy Vallee), but soon enough Blackie locates her, just as the law catches up with her as well.

Considering the ingeniously labyrinthine plots of many of Sturges's best films (The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek), the shorter (77 minutes), too straightforward Beautiful Blonde suffers from a lack of narrative momentum, working best during Sturges's signature rambling dialogues between two or more characters. An early example is a marvelous exchange between Sheriff Ambrose (Al Bridge) and Freddie in the local jail, Bridge's nasally voice and monotone delivery adding to the amusement. (Bridge, a prolific veteran of B-Westerns before joining Sturges's stock company, is right at home here.) Adjacent scenes with luckless judge Porter Hall are equally delightful, aided by an uncredited Margaret Hamilton as his matronly wife (mistaken for the judge's mother!) and Hugh Herbert as the near-sighted, agreeably sadistic doctor charged with removing the bullet's from the Hall's butt.

The second-half of the film isn't as good, relying much of the time on broad slapstick with obnoxious, over-aged elementary students Sterling Holloway and Dan Jackson meeting their match in sharpshooter Freddie. Broad physical slapstick was never Sturges's strong suit (Unfaithfully Yours' physical gags just aren't up to the level of his razor-sharp dialogue), though a climatic shootout introduces an almost surreal approach unknown in Sturges's other comedies. Some of these are almost more akin to later French comedies by Tati and Pierre Etaix, such as one funny bit where a gunslinger is repeatedly shot, crashing backwards onto a shed's roof, getting up again, only to be shot down again and again.

Though Sturges regular William Demarest is sorely missed, the film features most of his familiar stock company, the majority in uncredited small parts: Esther Howard, Emory Parnell, Torben Meyer and, of course, Rudy Vallee, who excelled playing rich, gentlemanly twits.

Video & Audio

Filmed in 1.37:1 standard ratio and three-strip Technicolor, The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend mostly looks excellent, though someone at Fox and/or distributor Kino Lorber went overboard with the digital color tweaking. For reasons unknown, hues look accurate most of the time, but flesh tones occasionally border on gold or Donald Trump-orange (see the 30:00 mark). In Grable's first scene her red dress look positively unreal. This aspect of the transfer is only mildly distracting and intermittent, but it's there. The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mono is robust and lively, however. The disc is Region A encoded. No Extra Features .

Parting Thoughts

Underrated and mostly very enjoyable, The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend is High Recommended.






Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-based film historian largely absent from reviewing these days while he restores a 200-year-old Japanese farmhouse.

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