The year is 1876, and Brooklyn gunsmith Daniel Bone (Eddie Albert) has decided to close up shop. Having inherited the business from his father, he thinks it’s time for a change. The West is becoming wild, hoards of people migrating in search of gold, and they’re going to need guns to protect themselves from the dangers of the territory.
Dan is sure he’ll be a success, so he heads to the ominously-named Arsenic City, Nevada to set up shop. Aboard the train, he reads up on Western history and even teaches himself some Native American sign language. He also meets Liza Crockett (Gale Storm), a woman headed to Arsenic City.
Dangers and adventures await Dan and Liza on their trek across the country. Will they make it to Nevada safely, or will outlaws, thieves, and other troubles get in their way?
Kurt Neumann directs 1948’s The Dude Goes West.
This film finds likable leads in Eddie Albert and Gale Storm, though I’ll admit to being a big fan of both stars prior to watching. They both do well in their roles here, Eddie carrying the film as a good-spirited fellow hoping to make a living for himself in an exciting new place.
It’s clear from the film’s opening that The Dude Goes West is going to be a charming and enjoyable Western-comedy. It all starts many years after the events in Arsenic City, with Dan recounting his adventures to his grandchildren. He shows them a scrapbook of famous cowboys, and in it… a portrait of himself!
The “city gunsmith going West” premise is pretty well-executed here. The hurdles thrown at Dan (aka “The Dude”) are somewhat predictable, but there’s a natural flow to the sequence of events that makes for easy viewing. Comic mishaps are blended with moments of action and adventure as Dan and Liza encounter friendly strangers, outlaws, and Native American tribes. No encounter is too intense or dramatic, the film in general being light in tone, with the exception of one almost-hanging of an innocent man.
Some of the film’s gags do try too hard (see: the pipe-as-gun bit), but in general it’s a delightful watch. To top it off, Eddie Albert gets to perform a few fun songs.
The Dude Goes West will never be considered among the greats of the Western genre, but it’s a very enjoyable watch, with nice performances and a generally pleasant mood to match.