Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Overlooked Films: Hop-a-long Cassidy (1935)

William Boyd made a career of playing Hopalong Cassidy. Between 1935 and 1954 he starred as Hoppy in 66 films and 49 TV episodes. But it all started right here. The original film title was Hop-a-long Cassidy, but it was renamed Hopalong Cassidy Enters for the 1946 reissue, and is more commonly known by that name today.

Normally, the first film of such a long series is quaint to look back upon, and see how much the character has changed over the years. Not so with Hoppy. Boyd's depiction springs to life fully realized, and there's almost no difference between this Hoppy and the one that made his last bow twenty years later.

Contrary to the poster above, and the colorized lobby cards below, Hoppy does not wear a green or red shirt. Right from the beginning, he sports his signature black hat, black outfit, white hair and white scarf, and rides his white horse. Boyd, too, seems timeless. He was 40 when this was this was made, but looks the same as he did at 60.

And he makes an impressive entrance. The first time we see Hoppy, he appears on horseback, on top of a hill, at least a hundred yards from the action. But he needs only a single pistol shot to knock the bad guy's gun out of his hand and save the life of another Bar 20 cowboy.

Also on hand here is Gabby Hayes. But this time, he's not a sidekick. He's more of a mentor and father figure, and is foully murdered, giving Hoppy more motivation to kick bad guy butt in the big finish. The Three Musketeers referred to in the ad above are Hoppy and two other Bar 20 hands (and Clarence Mulford characters) Johnny Nelson and Red Connors. At the end (SPOILER ALERT) they go riding off together, in search of more adventure.

Are YOU in search of more adventure? You'll no doubt find it at the Overlooked Films Round-up, now playing over at SWEET FREEDOM.


Cap'n Bob said...

Several months ago I rented a brace of Hoppy TV shows from Netfix--5 shows per disk. I was quite surprised to see that he wore his black outfit in, at best, half of them. In some he was traveling incognito and operating undercover to bust a criminal gang (a common plot device, apparently), but in others there was no reason for the sartorial switch.

Charles Gramlich said...

The munford character is really cool.