Cast & Crew
Joe E. Brown
Horticulturist Wellington Holmes and his companion, Robert Oglethorpe, are on a mission to beautify the West. When their stagecoach is attacked by masked bandit Buckskin Bill and his gang, Holmes, who believes that the West has been tamed, thinks that the holdup is a prank. After realizing that Buckskin Bill is deadly serious, Holmes keels over, pulling his potted plants down on the bandits' heads. The posse, who has been chasing the bandits, arrives just in time to see the dazed outlaws gallop away. Hailing Holmes as a hero for foiling the robbery, the posse members appoint him the new marshal of Big Bluff. Once they are ensconced in their hotel room in town, Holmes assures the terrified Oglethorpe that they will be leaving on the next stage. He has a change of plans, however, when a rock comes crashing though their window with a note from Buckskin Bill, warning him that he will be watching every stagecoach for the new marshal. When the hotel maid tells Holmes that Buckskin Bill is unfailingly courteous to all ladies, Holmes decides to diguise himself as a woman, pose as Ogelthorpe's wife Henrietta, and board the next stage out of town. Also onboard the stage is Elena Montoya, the daughter of Don Carlos Montoya, the owner of the Big Bluff gambling and entertainment palace. Soon after leaving town, the stage is stopped by Buckskin Bill, who informs Elena that he is holding Don Carlos prisoner at his hacienda. After climbing onto the coach to escort Elena to her father, Buckskin Bill thoughtfully designates Henrietta and her "husband" Elena's chaperones. Upon arriving at the hacienda, Buckskin Bill demands $50,000 for Don Carlos' release. At a party that night, Buckskin Bill asks Holmes to dance, and the exuberant dancers spend the evening slamming each other to the ground. At bedtime, Buckskin Bill assigns Holmes and Elena to sleep in the same room. As Elena starts to disrobe, Holmes begins to scream hysterically. Rushing to the room to quiet Holmes, Bill decides to send Elena and Oglethorpe back to town to raise the ransom while the hysterical Holmes remains behind. After Elena and Oglethorpe leave, Bill tells his maid, Maria, to put Holmes to bed. When Holmes refuses to allow Maria to undress him, she begins to rip off his clothes. Saved when Maria faints at the sight of a mouse, Holmes bolts into an empty bedroom, dons men's clothes and climbs out the window and over a wall. After trudging along the trail all night long, Holmes sits on a rock to rest. When a rider gallops past, warning of approaching Indians, Holmes sticks the wig back on his head. Soon after, the Indians appear, and the chief demands Holmes's scalp. Offering to scalp himself, Holmes slices off his wig, thus winning the chief's respect. Dubbing Holmes "Chief Cave in the Face," the Indians make him a blood brother and offer him a ride back to Big Bluff. Upon returning to town, Holmes is introduced to Elena, who begs him to save her father and Oglethorpe's wife. Soon after, the maskless Buckskin Bill and two of his men gallop into town, their guns blazing, and commandeer the saloon. At the urging of the townsfolk, Holmes slinks into the saloon, intending to sneak out the back door. Spotting Holmes, Buckskin Bill throws a dagger at him but hits the rope supporting a chandelier instead. The chandelier falls on Buckskin Bill's head and knocks him unconscious. Holmes jails the outlaws, but because no one has ever seen Buckskin Bill without his mask, he fails to realize that he has actually captured the gang's leader. As the town honors their marshal at a ceremony, Buckskin Bill throws a rock from the jail window, with a note from the masked bandit, threatening to kill Don Carlos unless the prisoners are released. When Holmes suggests freeing the outlaws and offering them a reward to lead the posse to their hideout, Buckskin Bill proposes that the marshal, Elena and Oglethorpe accompany the bandits on the mission. After drawing the posse a fake map to follow to the hideout, Buckskin Bill and the others ride off. Upon arriving at the hacienda, Buckskin Bill dons his mask and informs Oglethorpe that his wife has disappeared. Fleeing from the outlaws, Holmes runs into a bedroom, pulls on a dress and becomes Henrietta. When he accidentally lights his dress on fire, the bandits realize that Henrietta is Holmes and begin to chase him. Jumping over the balcony, Holmes throws his burning dress onto a haystack. In the distance, the Indians see the smoke and, thinking that it is a signal, ride to Holmes's rescue. Believing that the Indians are attacking the hacienda, the posse follows them there and arrives just as Holmes overpowers Bill. After Elena kisses Holmes in gratitude, he decides to stay in Big Bluff and finish beautifying the West.
Joe E. Brown
Pedro De Cordoba
Chief Thunder Cloud
Clay De Roy
Ed Peil Sr.
M. W. Stoloff
Shut My Big Mouth
Brown plays Wellington Holmes, a timid horticulturist who aims to beautify the open spaces of the West. Thanks to a comic plot turn, he finds himself appointed marshal of Big Bluff and expected to bring in the masked bandit Buckskin Bill (Victor Jory). Desperate to escape, Wellington disguises himself as a feisty woman, leading to ever more comic hijinks, including an adoption by Indians who christen him "Chief Cave in the Face."
A Columbia press release stated, "Producer Robert Sparks has provided a ladies' hairdresser to care for the star's wigs, a wardrobe woman to keep his ten changes of dresses and gowns in condition, and even a lady's dressing room in which Brown may lounge between takes on the set."
Shut My Big Mouth began filming in November 1941 and finished three days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. By the time the picture opened in February 1942, Brown was entertaining American troops at army bases in Alaska - the first performer to do so. Brown spent much time during the war entertaining American armed forces worldwide, becoming one of only two civilians to receive the Bronze Star during World War II.
Film historian Leonard Maltin, in his book The Great Movie Comedians, described the essence of Brown's appeal. "Brown developed a screen personality reminiscent of the silent clowns," Maltin wrote, "and significantly, his popularity endured far longer than many of his stage colleagues... Brown projected likability, innocence, and American stick-to-itiveness in his frequent role as an outcast or underdog. These had been key ingredients in the success of the silent clowns, and they helped endear Joe E. Brown to movie audiences in the talkie era who begged for some relief from the constant chatter and wisecrack dialogue that Hollywood supplied... Other comedians in film history have been cleverer, more skillful, more artistic. But none could match Joe E. Brown for establishing such immediate and enduring rapport with his audience."
Shut My Big Mouth was seen as a welcome return for Brown and was a modest commercial success. "Joe E. Brown returns to the screen after a lengthy absence in the type of role he does best," declared Variety. "A lot of fun. Charles Barton's direction has a tongue-in-cheek style, and capably pokes fun at time-hallowed western plots."
This was actress Adele Mara's second credited film role, after Blondie Goes to College (1942). Future stars Lloyd Bridges and Forrest Tucker are billed far down in the list. This was Tucker's fifth movie; Bridges had appeared in more than twenty over the previous two years but had mostly been uncredited.
By Jeremy Arnold
Wes D. Gehring, Joe E. Brown: Film Comedian and Baseball Buffoon
Leonard Maltin, The Great Movie Comedians
James Robert Parish and William T. Leonard, The Funsters
Shut My Big Mouth
The working titles of this picture were I'm No Cowboy and Cowboy Joe. Although the character played by Adele Mara is listed as "Conchita Montoya" in onscreen credits, she is called "Elena Montoya" in the film. This was Joe E. Brown's first screen appearance since suffering a serious injury in a car accident two years earlier, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item.