Cast & Crew
When he is wounded during a stage robbery, masked bandit Monte Jarrad drops a rifle engraved with his name. Having only the robber's name and a vague description, the sheriff of Payneville offers a $1,000 reward for the arrest of "tall and skinny Monte Jarrad who travels with a half-wit named Uncle Roscoe." Consequently, when long- limbed cowpoke Melody Jones rides into town with the initials "MJ" carved into his saddle, the townsfolk of Payneville mistake him for Monte and think that his sidekick, George Fury, is Uncle Roscoe. Delighting in the deference paid to him by the townsfolk, the gun-shy, mild-mannered Melody begins to swagger like a gunslinger until Cherry De Longpre, the beautiful daughter of a local rancher, warns Melody that a gun is trained on his back and shields him as they ride out of town. Cherry escorts George and Melody to her ranch, and after explaining the case of mistaken identity to Melody, admonishes him to leave the territory as soon as possible. Melody takes her advice, and after he leaves, she visits the barn where she is harboring the wounded Monte. After warning Cherry to forget Melody, the jealous Monte sends her brother Avery to town to find Leo Gledhill, his accomplice in the robbery. Melody is charmed by Cherry until he realizes that she has deliberately set him up as a decoy and returns to the ranch to confront her. That night, Cherry is shocked to find Melody in her bed, and after telling him that Monte is her childhood friend "gone bad," she asks him to hide in her room until morning. While Melody complies with Cherry's request, George rides into town and learns that the sheriff, the express company, the cavalry and the Cottons, a family bent on avenging Monte's murder of three of their kin, are all in pursuit of the bandit. The next morning, Melody meets George at his camp, where George hands him a note addressed to Monte from stagecoach driver Ira Waggoner, demanding his share from the robbery. Cherry follows Melody to camp, and after bursting into tears for betraying him, she asks him to take Monte's saddle and lead the posse away from town. Melody, enchanted by Cherry, straps Monte's saddle on his horse and hands her his handkerchief to her as a remembrance. Cherry then returns to the ranch where Monte, who is now recovered, tells her that he will send for her and then departs. Posing as a tough gunslinger, Melody rides into town and meets Waggoner, who pulls a gun and demands his money. Wagonner is interrupted by Leo, who orders Melody to accompany him out of town at gunpoint. On the outskirts of town, Leo challenges Melody to a duel, and the bungling Melody is saved by Cherry, who trains her rifle on Leo and orders him to follow George into the desert. While George leads Leo away, Cherry offers to show Melody where the money is hidden if he agrees to wait until spring to return it, thus allowing Monte time to leave the territory. After Melody agrees to Cherry's terms, she takes him to a shack where they are greeted by Luke Packard, an agent of the express company. After informing them that he has sent for the posse, Packard offers to allow Melody to escape in return for the money. Knowing that the posse will hang Melody if they catch him, Cherry tells Packard that the money is hidden in a trunk by the window. As Packard bends to open the trunk, a shot rings out and he falls dead. When George stomps in immediately afterward, Melody thinks that he shot Packard but soon realizes that Monte is the killer. After they stash Packard's body in the trunk, the sheriff arrives and offers Melody his freedom in exchange for the stolen funds. When Melody refuses his offer, the sheriff sits on the trunk, causing the top to dislodge, thus exposing Packard's body. In the confusion, Cherry gallops off and Melody follows, but loses her. In search of Cherry, Melody rides to the De Longpre ranch and is there confronted by Monte, who orders him to swap clothes. Insanely jealous, Monte plans to obliterate Melody's face so that he will be mistaken for the fugitive. As Melody taunts Monte by telling him that Cherry is no longer his, Cherry enters the room and orders Melody to the barn where George lies, wounded by the vicious Monte. After Monte's gang arrives with news that the posse is approaching, Cherry grabs her rifle and runs to the barn to protect Melody. Avery and her father join her there. After admitting that he returned to Payneville to help Cherry, Melody takes Pop's gun and challenges Monte to a shootout. Monte shoots Melody in the arm and leg and is about to finish him off when Cherry shoots the gunslinger in the back. Thinking that George shot Monte, Melody collapses. Later, after they both recover from their wounds, Melody offers George the reward for Monte's capture. When George declines it, Melody realizes that Cherry must have shot Monte. Believing that she intended to shoot him instead, Melody accuses her of being a bad shot and begins to saddle his horse to leave. To prove him wrong, Cherry shoots a hole in his hat. Finally comprehending that she shot Monte to save his life, Melody strides back into the house and embraces Cherry.
Paul E. Burns
R. O. Binger
Along Came Jones
After the film's initial screenings, Cooper was raked over the coals by Cecil B. DeMille, who had directed the actor in three previous pictures, including Cooper's performance as Western legend Wild Bill Hickock in The Plainsman (1937). DeMille thought it was a foolish idea for Cooper to kid his own image; he saw it as a betrayal of the fans' idolization of him as a screen hero. In spite of his own misgivings about the role, Cooper was rewarded with a box office success, thanks in part to the personal appearance tour he made to promote it.
The star's greater misgivings concerned his responsibilities as the producer. It was not a part the easygoing, polite Cooper was best cut out for. He had been talked into it by Nunnally Johnson, a successful screenwriter with four Oscar® nominations to back it up. The two had formed International Pictures and produced an earlier Cooper comedy, Casanova Brown (1944). Johnson decided to focus their next joint venture on his own comic adaptation of a straight Western story by Alan Le May, author of several novels and stories made into movies, including John Ford's The Searchers (1956). But Cooper soon found producing to be a major chore. In one memorable incident, he balked at signing off on designs for Young's simple ranch outfits when he found out they would cost about $175 each. Since these were supposed to be "cheap store dresses" anyway, Cooper wanted to know why they couldn't cut costs by buying ordinary dresses at less than ten percent of the price. It was explained to Cooper that the studio-made costumes would be wrinkle-resistant and hold up better over repeated takes. But what apparently really changed his mind was the realization that as producer he would have to be the one to explain to a glamorous actress like Loretta Young that she was being placed in $7 off-the-rack outfits.
Along Came Jones would prove to be Cooper's first and last venture as producer. (International Pictures later merged with Universal Studios to become the motion picture giant Universal-International.) Associates said his greatest difficulty was standing firm on his decisions. And reportedly the person who took the greatest advantage of this shortcoming was Johnson himself, who took his sweet time delivering a finished script until others advised Cooper to prod the writer more. Conversely, it was Johnson who was forced to point out to the normally very prepared and professional Cooper that the distractions of producing were keeping him from showing up on set as an actor with his lines memorized and ready to shoot.
Johnson's biggest problem, however, was with director Stuart Heisler, and his outspokenness on the matter almost got the writer blackballed from Hollywood. Heisler began his career as an editor (including work on two Cooper pictures from a decade earlier) and had been hired for this film largely on the strength of one of his first features as director, the boy-and-his-dog story The Biscuit Eater (1940). But Johnson felt that Heisler's work on Along Came Jones was a self-conscious attempt to mimic John Ford and not in keeping with the spirit of the comic story. He described Heisler as "one of the two or three directors I ever had any genuine antipathy for" and told a reporter that Heisler's main contribution was overworking the actors and keeping them past their six o'clock quitting time. The statement was misquoted so that it read as if Johnson had said this about all directors, upsetting the Screen Directors Guild to such a degree that Mervyn LeRoy and Edmund Goulding proposed and seconded a resolution that no one ever work with the writer again. As a result, Johnson was forced to apologize and defend himself against a statement he never made. He later became good friends with LeRoy and worked with Goulding on two pictures. As for Heisler, he went on to direct a number of films before moving into TV, where he worked on such Western series as Lawman, Rawhide and The Virginian, loosely based on the old Cooper picture.
Along Came Jones later became the title of a hit 1959 song about a "slow walkin', slow talkin', long, lean, lanky" Western movie hero, recorded by the Coasters, an R&B group known for novelty tunes. In 1991, country-western artist George Jones used it as the title of one of his albums.
Director: Stuart Heisler
Producer: Gary Cooper
Screenplay: Nunnally Johnson, based on a story by Alan Le May
Cinematography: Milton Krasner
Editing: Thomas Neff
Production Design: Wiard Ihnen
Original Music: Arthur Lange, Al Stewart, Hugo Friedhofer (uncredited), Charles Maxwell (uncredited)
Cast: Gary Cooper (Melody Jones), Loretta Young (Cherry de Longpre), William Demarest (George Fury), Dan Duryea (Monte Jarrad).
by Rob Nixon
Along Came Jones
Now wait a minute, Melody. You ain't got to be no dumber than necessary.- George Fury
That would make me somebody, wouldn't it?- Melody Jones
Get your dumb thumb out of my eye!- George Fury
I was just trying to see if you was dead.- Melody Jones
Well, I ain't! And I don't like someone trying to gouge my eye out.- George Fury
Look Melody, you couldn't hit the hind end of your horse with a handful of buckshot and you know it. And you ain't a gunfighter, that's all. You ain't even a good shot. You're just a plain no good bronc stomper that's been hit in the seat of the pants so many times....- George Fury
You always want to shoot them in their right eye. It spoils their aim.- George Fury
Who is it?- George Fury
That used to be Packard, the Express Company fella.- Melody Jones
Well that cinched the duck! Now they got a corpus delicti!- George Fury
A what?- Melody Jones
A dead body! That's the way the law says it. Corpus delicti. Means that if they got a corpse, you're delicti! Before this, even if they hung ya, we could have proved it was a mistake.- George Fury
The working title of this film was American Cowboy. In the opening credits, the title card reads "Nunnally Johnson's Along Came Jones." The picture was a co-production between Gary Cooper's Cinema Artists Corp. and International Pictures, Inc. It represented Cooper's first effort as an independent producer and was his first Western since the 1940 film The Westerner (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.5023). According to a contemporary program from the film contained in the AMPAS production files, the town of Payneville was erected at the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth, CA. Other location shooting was done in Sasabe, Tucson and Nogales, Arizona.