The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw


1h 42m 1959

Brief Synopsis

A proper English gentleman, traveling in the American West, inadvertently stops an Indian attack on the stagecoach in which he is a passenger. When the stage gets to the nearest town, the raucous Fractured Jaw--which is being plagued by unruly cowbys, bandits and marauding Indians--the story spreads, and he is appointed sheriff.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1959
Premiere Information
London opening: 28 Oct 1958
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Andalusia,Spain; Iver Heath, England, Great Britain; London, England, Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw" by Jacob Hay in MacLean's Magazine (Apr 1954).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,254ft

Synopsis

At his manor house in the English countryside, the wealthy Lucius Tibbs consults his solicitor, Mr. Toynbee, as to the whereabouts of his ne'er-do-well nephew Jonathan. Jonathan is soon located in the coach house working on his latest invention, a horseless carriage. When Jonathan's invention fails miserably, he decides to enter the family firm, the venerable Tibbs and Company, purveyors of guns and hunting rifles since 1605. Jonathan quickly realizes that the company, stuck in archaic ways of doing business, is turning only a small profit, so he sets off for America to sell Tibbs firearms in the "Wild West." While traveling by stagecoach, the bemused Tibbs finds himself in the company of a drunk and a hair tonic salesman. The stagecoach is attacked by Indians, but Tibbs, blissfully unaware of the danger and excited about the prospect of meeting a real Indian, jumps off the stage and walks up to a brave about to launch a tomahawk. Tibbs rescues the stage by restraining the Indian with his walking stick, then forces the confused warrior to shake his hand as a gentlemanly gesture of peace. The stagecoach enters the town of Fractured Jaw where the locals praise Tibbs for his bravery. Soon, however, the town's bad element, mercenaries involved in a feud over water rights between the Box N and Lazy S ranches, challenge Tibbs to a gunfight, but quickly disperse when he draws his gun with lightning speed. Tibbs checks into the local hotel and meets its proprietess, a buxom blonde named Miss Kate, who warns him that Fractured Jaw is a lawless town which has been without a sheriff for six months. Late that night, Tibbs is awakened by noise emanating from the hotel's rowdy barroom, where Kate sings and dances. When he goes downstairs to complain, Kate and the patrons make fun of his sense of decorum, and Tibbs is lured into a drinking contest by the malevolent Keeno, a Box N mercenary who mistakenly believes that Tibbs is working undercover for the Lazy S. A brawl ensues in which Keeno is shot dead, but the barroom quickly returns to normal after Kate casually orders the body removed and drinks for everyone. Seeing Tibbs's shock at the bar patrons' cavalier response, the mayor, Doc Masters, explains that the townspeople's cynicism is the result of their inability to retain a sheriff. Before he knows it, an inebriated Tibbs has been tricked into accepting the position. The next morning, Tibbs attempts to relinquish the badge, but the mayor refuses to accept it, especially after Tibbs skillfully disarms Bud Wilkins, one of the Lazy S henchmen, with his quick draw. Impressed, Kate flirts with Tibbs, but soon learns that Tibbs's lightning draw is the result of a special spring device he keeps up his sleeve. Kate, who finds Tibbs's Old World manners charming, advises him to keep his inability to shoot a secret and offers to give him lessons. During target practice, Kate and Tibbs declare their attraction to each other and Tibbs proposes marriage. Kate accepts on the condition that Tibbs give up his sheriff's badge, but Tibbs refuses because he now feels an obligation to clean up Fractured Jaw. The town undertaker begins shadowing Tibbs, certain that he will soon be adding him to the collection of sheriffs in Boot Hill Cemetery. Later, while attempting to sell guns to a local farmer, Tibbs succeeds in stopping a gun battle between representatives of the feuding ranchers, both of whom swear revenge on the new sheriff. Riding back to town, Tibbs is kidnapped by Indians and strung up for target practice, but Running Deer, the Indian whom Tibbs met on the way into Fractured Jaw, praises Tibbs's bravery and the tribe ends up making him an honorary member. Given the choice between becoming a "dead Englishman or a live Indian," Tibbs drinks the blood of a wild buffalo and smokes the peace pipe, but stops short of accepting the chief's offer of an Indian bride. Meanwhile, in town, the war between the ranchers escalates, but both sides decide to stop fighting temporarily while they concentrate on getting rid of the annoying Sheriff Tibbs. After Tibbs attempts to reason with the men and they respond by taking a potshot, Tibbs calls on the Indians for assistance. The Indians succeed in routing the ranchers, who are then taken to jail, after which the undertaker finally leaves, realizing that Tibbs is there to stay. Tibbs appoints Running Deer to the position of deputy and then begins the task of civilizing his Indian blood brother, first by teaching him how to make a proper cup of English tea. Having finally won the respect of the feuding ranchers, Tibbs elicits a promise that they will peacefully share the local watering hole with one another and with the Indians. As bells chime, an exuberant Sheriff Tibbs changes into formal wear and heads over to the chapel to wed Miss Kate, who is given away by Tibbs's adoptive father, Chief Red Wolf.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1959
Premiere Information
London opening: 28 Oct 1958
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Andalusia,Spain; Iver Heath, England, Great Britain; London, England, Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw" by Jacob Hay in MacLean's Magazine (Apr 1954).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,254ft

Articles

Jayne Mansfield Collection, The - The Jayne Mansfield Collection on DVD including THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT


You can split movie buffs into two groups based on their reaction to the newly released The Jayne Mansfield Collection, a set of three films previously unavailable on DVD. The first group would look at this and think "Wow, a Jayne Mansfield collection" while the second would think "Wow, a Frank Tashlin collection." Mansfield, of course, was one of the Fifties' string of famously bountiful blondes that ran from Marilyn Monroe at the top to Mamie Van Doren down to Cleo Moore. As such Mansfield will always have her fans but Frank Tashlin was a different matter. A former animator (boasting Disney and Warners' infamous "Termite Terrace" under his belt), Tashlin was addicted to speed, bright colors and uncontrollable comic twitches. Whether he learned this from his time in the cartoon trenches or was driven to animation by innate tendencies doesn't much matter; Tashlin was American cinema's gut-bucket satirist and a direct, openly acknowledged influence on the French New Wave. He directed many of Jerry Lewis' wildest films (such as Artists and Models) and possibly for that reason has often been dismissed. If you want to know why Tashlin deserves full respect then just watch two of his best films that are included in this set.

For a start check out the opening to The Girl Can't Help It (1956). Tom Ewell (The Seven-Year Itch) walks "on stage" and directly addresses the audience inside a movie image that's an almost-square black-and-white box. He seems a bit dissatisfied then uses his fingers to flick the sides of the box until it expands to wide CinemaScope proportions. Ewell then calls for color by DeLuxe and sure enough a vibrant wash of color spreads across the image. Gimmicky? Perhaps but played with lightness and a wink that perfectly sets the tone for the film.

In The Girl Can't Help It Ewell is a washed-up talent agent hooked by a washed-up mobster (DOA's Edmond O'Brien) to turn his girlfriend into the newest singing sensation. The girlfriend (Mansfield of course) is a strictly hands-off proposition for Ewell but of course nothing turns out quite as planned. Not the most promising story and it was pretty threadworn even at the time (even echoed decades later in Pulp Fiction). But that's hardly the point. The studio apparently saw the film as an opportunity to cash in on the newest musical fad (some now-forgotten style called rock 'n' roll) while Tashlin and his script collaborator Herbert Baker took the opportunity to unleash their imaginations, most famously on a string of quasi-vulgar sight gags when Mansfield first walks to Ewell's apartment. But it avoids both crudeness and post-vaudevillean schtick because of the lack of bitterness in Tashlin's view; his sentimental streak poked through from time to time and he was never able to condemn any character to a fated doom, however comic.

For rock fans, the movie is simply required viewing. A string of greats make appearances including Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Fats Domino and Eddie Cochran, at the top of their powers and mostly playing songs uninterrupted (one unfortunate exception being brief dialogue in the middle of a Little Richard performance.) Half a century later you can still feel the transgressive energy powering them and that in fact becomes a plot point in the film. Even the now partially forgotten The Treniers turn in one of their best songs and though she's not remotely rock 'n' roll Julie London's singing is, well, unforgettable. It's interesting in hindsight how much the film gets right about early rock but there are still a couple of ringers such as The Chuckles (formerly The Three Chuckles), a pre-rock Italian combo that featured an accordion! By the way, that is indeed Little Richard's theme "The Girl Can't Help It" currently sampled by pop singer Fergie in her song "Clumsy."

However amazing The Girl Can't Help It is, Tashlin was just warming up. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, released the following year, is an astonishing free-for-all against pop culture and celebrating it: advertising, fan clubs, television, sex symbols, media manipulation and even Tashlin's own films (The Girl Can't Help It is mentioned twice and not necessarily favorably). Originally Rock Hunter was a Broadway play by George Axelrod (The Seven-Year Itch again) but apparently that source wasn't followed very strictly so that in some ways the film resembles The Girl Can't Help It. This time it's Tony Randall who encounters Mansfield. He's a low-level advertising writer happily engaged to be married who decides that the best way to save his company's chief money-making account (Stay-Put lipstick) is to enlist movie star Rita Marlowe (Mansfield). He manages to sneak a meeting to discover that she's more interested in creating a fictional romance to create jealousy in her boyfriend (Mansfield's real-life amour and future husband Mickey Hargitay) but is willing to play along with Randall's game.

Again nothing goes quite as planned. Everybody in Rock Hunter is pursuing their own version of the American Dream: a key to the private executive washroom, celebrity, money, a quiet home life. That they don't all agree on the Dream is part of the point; they're all frantic and driven towards something they may or may not really want. And it only gets more complex when you realize that pretty much everybody in the film is also manipulating everybody else's idea of the Dream. Again a more cynical filmmaker would have created a different, darker film (see Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole for an example) but for Tashlin it's almost like he was kidding members of his own family. Maybe that's one reason Tony Randall's common-guy likability and open confusion works so well. He has just the right plausibility as he swings from meek writer to a temporary Great Lover to just a conflicted man. Rock Hunter is farce but with a human heart.

What about Mansfield in all this? She was nearly perfect for Tashlin's purposes, a celebrity mostly famous for being famous, and not her fairly routine talents. She was always excessive and not entirely respectable, "sexy" but never sexy. So Tashlin never uses her straight but makes twists to her characters. In The Girl Can't Help It Mansfield may appear to be a blonde bombshell but deep down she really just wants to be domestic. Ewell shouldn't be attracted to her but, well, can't help it. In Rock Hunter she may be a media-circus film star but slowly decides maybe that's not right for her (though this strand isn't really resolved in the film). Randall should be attracted to her but the film's most charming aspect is that he's so deeply in love with his fiancee that Mansfield's character registers only as an abstraction.

Rounding out the set is a non-Tashlin film Mansfield made in 1958, the Western-comedy The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw. Directed by a past-his-prime Raoul Walsh and supposedly the first Western filmed in Spain, Sheriff is practically a catalog of anything you'd expect to see in a Western including a range war, Indian attacks, poker game, saloon shootout, tenderfoot pistol training and of course a crash course in sheriffing. Throw in some song-and-dance numbers (Mansfield is a saloon keeper) and it's a somewhat entertaining but completely lightweight outing.

The DVDs in the Jayne Mansfield Collection have clean transfers of the films and even more importantly are properly letterboxed. Nobody quite makes 'Scope films like these anymore; they probably wouldn't even be worth watching panned-and-scanned. The extras include a few trailers and an interesting but predictable A&E Biography episode about Mansfield. The two Tashlin films have commentaries, both a bit too professorial to be particularly interesting if you're not getting class credit.

For more information about The Jayne Mansfield Collection, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order The Jayne Mansfield Collection, go to TCM Shopping.

by Lang Thompson
Jayne Mansfield Collection, The - The Jayne Mansfield Collection On Dvd Including The Girl Can't Help It

Jayne Mansfield Collection, The - The Jayne Mansfield Collection on DVD including THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT

You can split movie buffs into two groups based on their reaction to the newly released The Jayne Mansfield Collection, a set of three films previously unavailable on DVD. The first group would look at this and think "Wow, a Jayne Mansfield collection" while the second would think "Wow, a Frank Tashlin collection." Mansfield, of course, was one of the Fifties' string of famously bountiful blondes that ran from Marilyn Monroe at the top to Mamie Van Doren down to Cleo Moore. As such Mansfield will always have her fans but Frank Tashlin was a different matter. A former animator (boasting Disney and Warners' infamous "Termite Terrace" under his belt), Tashlin was addicted to speed, bright colors and uncontrollable comic twitches. Whether he learned this from his time in the cartoon trenches or was driven to animation by innate tendencies doesn't much matter; Tashlin was American cinema's gut-bucket satirist and a direct, openly acknowledged influence on the French New Wave. He directed many of Jerry Lewis' wildest films (such as Artists and Models) and possibly for that reason has often been dismissed. If you want to know why Tashlin deserves full respect then just watch two of his best films that are included in this set. For a start check out the opening to The Girl Can't Help It (1956). Tom Ewell (The Seven-Year Itch) walks "on stage" and directly addresses the audience inside a movie image that's an almost-square black-and-white box. He seems a bit dissatisfied then uses his fingers to flick the sides of the box until it expands to wide CinemaScope proportions. Ewell then calls for color by DeLuxe and sure enough a vibrant wash of color spreads across the image. Gimmicky? Perhaps but played with lightness and a wink that perfectly sets the tone for the film. In The Girl Can't Help It Ewell is a washed-up talent agent hooked by a washed-up mobster (DOA's Edmond O'Brien) to turn his girlfriend into the newest singing sensation. The girlfriend (Mansfield of course) is a strictly hands-off proposition for Ewell but of course nothing turns out quite as planned. Not the most promising story and it was pretty threadworn even at the time (even echoed decades later in Pulp Fiction). But that's hardly the point. The studio apparently saw the film as an opportunity to cash in on the newest musical fad (some now-forgotten style called rock 'n' roll) while Tashlin and his script collaborator Herbert Baker took the opportunity to unleash their imaginations, most famously on a string of quasi-vulgar sight gags when Mansfield first walks to Ewell's apartment. But it avoids both crudeness and post-vaudevillean schtick because of the lack of bitterness in Tashlin's view; his sentimental streak poked through from time to time and he was never able to condemn any character to a fated doom, however comic. For rock fans, the movie is simply required viewing. A string of greats make appearances including Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Fats Domino and Eddie Cochran, at the top of their powers and mostly playing songs uninterrupted (one unfortunate exception being brief dialogue in the middle of a Little Richard performance.) Half a century later you can still feel the transgressive energy powering them and that in fact becomes a plot point in the film. Even the now partially forgotten The Treniers turn in one of their best songs and though she's not remotely rock 'n' roll Julie London's singing is, well, unforgettable. It's interesting in hindsight how much the film gets right about early rock but there are still a couple of ringers such as The Chuckles (formerly The Three Chuckles), a pre-rock Italian combo that featured an accordion! By the way, that is indeed Little Richard's theme "The Girl Can't Help It" currently sampled by pop singer Fergie in her song "Clumsy." However amazing The Girl Can't Help It is, Tashlin was just warming up. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, released the following year, is an astonishing free-for-all against pop culture and celebrating it: advertising, fan clubs, television, sex symbols, media manipulation and even Tashlin's own films (The Girl Can't Help It is mentioned twice and not necessarily favorably). Originally Rock Hunter was a Broadway play by George Axelrod (The Seven-Year Itch again) but apparently that source wasn't followed very strictly so that in some ways the film resembles The Girl Can't Help It. This time it's Tony Randall who encounters Mansfield. He's a low-level advertising writer happily engaged to be married who decides that the best way to save his company's chief money-making account (Stay-Put lipstick) is to enlist movie star Rita Marlowe (Mansfield). He manages to sneak a meeting to discover that she's more interested in creating a fictional romance to create jealousy in her boyfriend (Mansfield's real-life amour and future husband Mickey Hargitay) but is willing to play along with Randall's game. Again nothing goes quite as planned. Everybody in Rock Hunter is pursuing their own version of the American Dream: a key to the private executive washroom, celebrity, money, a quiet home life. That they don't all agree on the Dream is part of the point; they're all frantic and driven towards something they may or may not really want. And it only gets more complex when you realize that pretty much everybody in the film is also manipulating everybody else's idea of the Dream. Again a more cynical filmmaker would have created a different, darker film (see Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole for an example) but for Tashlin it's almost like he was kidding members of his own family. Maybe that's one reason Tony Randall's common-guy likability and open confusion works so well. He has just the right plausibility as he swings from meek writer to a temporary Great Lover to just a conflicted man. Rock Hunter is farce but with a human heart. What about Mansfield in all this? She was nearly perfect for Tashlin's purposes, a celebrity mostly famous for being famous, and not her fairly routine talents. She was always excessive and not entirely respectable, "sexy" but never sexy. So Tashlin never uses her straight but makes twists to her characters. In The Girl Can't Help It Mansfield may appear to be a blonde bombshell but deep down she really just wants to be domestic. Ewell shouldn't be attracted to her but, well, can't help it. In Rock Hunter she may be a media-circus film star but slowly decides maybe that's not right for her (though this strand isn't really resolved in the film). Randall should be attracted to her but the film's most charming aspect is that he's so deeply in love with his fiancee that Mansfield's character registers only as an abstraction. Rounding out the set is a non-Tashlin film Mansfield made in 1958, the Western-comedy The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw. Directed by a past-his-prime Raoul Walsh and supposedly the first Western filmed in Spain, Sheriff is practically a catalog of anything you'd expect to see in a Western including a range war, Indian attacks, poker game, saloon shootout, tenderfoot pistol training and of course a crash course in sheriffing. Throw in some song-and-dance numbers (Mansfield is a saloon keeper) and it's a somewhat entertaining but completely lightweight outing. The DVDs in the Jayne Mansfield Collection have clean transfers of the films and even more importantly are properly letterboxed. Nobody quite makes 'Scope films like these anymore; they probably wouldn't even be worth watching panned-and-scanned. The extras include a few trailers and an interesting but predictable A&E Biography episode about Mansfield. The two Tashlin films have commentaries, both a bit too professorial to be particularly interesting if you're not getting class credit. For more information about The Jayne Mansfield Collection, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order The Jayne Mansfield Collection, go to TCM Shopping. by Lang Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Jayne Mansfield's singing voice is dubbed by Connie Francis.

Notes

Connie Francis sang "In the Valley of Love" over the opening credits, but does not appear in the film. Although Arthur Dales was given credit for the screenplay when the picture was initially released, the film was actually written by blacklisted screenwriter Howard Dimsdale, whose credit was officially restored by the WGA in the late 1990s. Although a March 1958 Hollywood Reporter production chart states that Bob Goldstein was to produce this picture, the extent of his participation in the released film has not been determined.
       The film's opening scenes, which take place in England, were shot at Pinewood Studios, but most of the film was shot in various locations in Spain's Andalusia province. A Hollywood Reporter news item, dated April 2, 1958, stated that Twentieth Century-Fox was shooting the film in Spain in order to "defreeze some... frozen funds" tied up in Europe. The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw opened in London in late October 1958, approximately two months prior to its U.S. release.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 1958

CinemaScope

Released in United States Fall November 1958