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The Dude Goes West

The Dude Goes West(1948)

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The Dude Goes West (1948)

Fifty years before the Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski (1998), Eddie Albert was "The Dude" in this fish-out-of-water comedy set in the old west. Scripted by the husband and wife writing team of Richard Sale and Mary Loos, The Dude Goes West (1948) went into production in November 1947 under the working title The Tenderfoot and stars Albert as Daniel Bone - that is not a typo -- a Brooklyn gunsmith who heads west to try his luck in the frontier town of Arsenic City, Nevada. Produced by the newly-incorporated Allied Pictures (formerly the Poverty Row outfit Monogram Pictures) and financed by the independent King Brothers, The Dude Goes West beat the better-remembered Bob Hope cowboy comedy The Paleface (1948) to American cinemas by six months but likewise fills its running time with gags, gunplay, and mistaken identities - enacted by a better-than-average cast of characters that includes Gale Storm, James Gleason, Barton McLane, Douglas Fowley, Olin Howlin, Iron Eyes Cody, and Gilbert Roland as The Pecos Kid. Cinematographer Karl Struss had been behind the camera since Hollywood's silent era, photographing Fred Niblo's Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) and F. W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927) - which won him his first and only Academy Award - before transitioning to sound films and shooting such classics as Reuben Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) and Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940). Struss and director Kurt Neumann would collaborate many more times, but never more memorably than for the science fiction milestone The Fly (1958).

By Richard Harland Smith

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