Trail of the Vigilantes ★★★★

Western antics
Meet Eastern "brain stuff."
Cowboy pratfalls
Amongst gangsters
And ethnic shapeshifters.

I’m becoming a sucker for this kind of really dopey comedy. Plot basically presents its solution within the first five minutes, and then Dwan ignores it for about an hour for a series of bizarre gags. Comedy here is extremely physical, real common denominator stuff, but here I am laughing my ass off anyways (protagonist arrives in town and the frames are kind of all over the place insane). Some delightful gags: the ever-changing ethnicities of Micha Auer is easily the highlight, but I dug the comic romance (and age gap jokes) between Franchot Tone and Peggy Moran. Plus, the bit with everyone falling into the swamp is ridiculously stupid fun. Dwan seems to prefer chaos to complexity, a simple “smash in the door” approach than anything graceful. The final charge to the town is over-the-top with wagons crashing all around for no reason, like that scene out of Heaven’s Gate, and then the final solution is to charge into a bar on a horse and smash everything in sight. Some argument could be made about the Western sensibilities versus Kansas’s Eastern “brain stuff,” but I’m howling too loud to care.

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