Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Overlooked Films: Hopalong Cassidy Returns (1936)
Hop-a-long Cassidy (aka Hopalong Cassidy Enters), the first Hoppy film (reviewed HERE) was released in 1935. So when I came across Hopalong Cassidy Returns, released in 1936, I figured it was number two in the series. Wouldn't you?
Boy, was I wrong. Hopalong Cassidy Returns was the 7th film in the series, and one of five released in 1936 alone. Our man Hoppy was a very busy cowboy.
The opening credits say the film is "based on the story by Clarence Mulford," so I guess that explains the title. A novel of that title was serialized in Argosy beginning in 1923, and published in hardcover in 1924. But whether the movie story bears any resemblance to the book, I don't know.
As stories go, it ain't bad. An old friend of Hoppy's (a crusading newspaper publisher in a wheelchair) asks him to come clean up the town, and he arrives just in time to see the guy become victim number two of the town's designated killer.
There are plenty of bad guys on hand, but the big boss in this one is slinky saloon owner Lilli Marsh. Prior to Hoppy's arrival, she appears bad to the bone, and has no qualms about ordering murder most foul. But Hopalong, stud that he is, turns her head. In the words of one her dancehall girls, "she can't decide whether to kill him or kiss him." To which another dancehall girl replies, "I wish I had that choice."
In the end (SPOILER ALERT), Lilli redeems herself, but takes a bullet in the brisket for her troubles, and dies with Hoppy's kiss on her lips.
After dying in the first film, Gabby Hayes on hand with a different name, but the same cantankerous character. In fact, Gabby appeared in at least two dozen Hoppy flicks before defecting to Roy Rogers in 1939.
More Overlooked Films at SWEET FREEDOM.