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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Go west, young man.

Son of Paleface (1952) on IMDb

Plot Overview

The son (Bob Hope) of bungling dentist Painless Peter Potter (Bob Hope) from “The [first] Paleface” film, dressed in cap & gown, graduating magna cum laude from Harvard U., is given a send-off by his girl to: “Go west and get your inheritance.” We go next to a typical western opening where a stage coach is getting robbed by torch-wielding banditti, here led by a black-clad curvaceous Jane Russell. The news­paper dubs her: “TORCH STRIKES AGAIN! ANOTHER GOLD SHIP­MENT ROBBED.” In a third parallel opening scene, federal marshals Roy Barton (Roy Rogers) and Doc Love­joy (Lloyd Corrigan) discuss with the governor a plan to capture The Torch. Roy has a map marked with Torch robberies all forming a circle centered on the town of Sawbucks Pass. There they will set up an under­cover operation disguised as a singing cowboy and a seller of patent medicines respectively.

As they are singing and selling in the town square Junior Potter arrives (“Out of my way! I'm a Harvard man.”) The town square boasts a statue of: "Pale­face Potter/ He won the West." Prone at his feet is the loser: an Indian, of course. In Potter's will is his estimation of his “idiot for a son” to whom he bequests all his fortune. In the fortune chest is … nothing. It's empty. Pale­face Junior pretends it's loaded so he can delay his lynching from the towns­folk who are his father's unpaid creditors. His girl back home dumps him when he wires he's broke and needs money. When he learns dancing girl “Mike” (Jane Russell) at the Dirty Shame Saloon is loaded, he comes courting figuring to take advantage of California's community property law. “Mike,” who is secretly the Torch, does the same with him figuring to increase her gold holdings. The feds follow Junior figuring that will lead them to the Torch. Chief Yellow Cloud (Iron Eyes Cody) wants Junior, too, for vengeance. They all converge on the desert ghost town of Silver City where Roy will attempt a diplomatic solution to leave every pale­face a winner. We hope that will work out better for them than it did for the Indians.


Senior Paleface would rather not have Junior inherit, “But this idiot is all I got in the world.” Even Solomon of biblical renown concurs, (Eccl. 2:18-19) “because I should leave my labour unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured.” The humor is that he is just like his old man—casting Hope as both leaves no doubt—as described by his partner Ebenezer Hawkins (Paul E. Burns): “You're just like your old pa. He was the lyingest, crookedest, mangyest, rottenest, low down critter than never drew a silver breath.”

Junior's Harvard education gave him a quick wit, somewhat misplaced in the rough and tumble west when he took to setting straight the local grammar: “Ah, a preposition at the end of a sentence, and you split your infinitive. Pretty soon you'll be dangling a participle. Shame on you sir, the school­marm will certainly hear about this.” Hey, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Let's see if we in our day of PC political correctness can salvage some­thing from this line.

Junior says, “My daddy spent a whole week in Niagara Falls on his honeymoon, laughing, loving, drinking champagne. He had so much fun.” Sounds to me like in 1952 a gay marriage would innocently mean a happy, festive one. That sentiment is entirely scriptural, (Eccl. 9:9) “Live joy­fully with thy wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity.” Junior has such aspirations with “Mike”, “I know this will be a happy marriage, 'cause you're a woman and I'm a man, and those are the kind of people that usually get married.” He sings, “I don't know why I feel this way/ But the feeling feels okay.” We could add a verse saying he's gay, meaning happy to be getting married.

Nowadays we're being forced largely by the courts to apply the label marriage to new areas. How­ever, marriage has always had a secondary meaning of a close union of any two entities, as one might say, "the marriage of science and industry." When Junior (under guard) and Trigger, Roy Barton's Horse (Trigger Smartest Horse in the Movies), share a bed and fight over the covers like a married couple, we could say they are married under the sheets, and that would be correct English, albeit a bit forced. That's different from the usual sense of marriage between a man and a woman whereby they may produce children, who turn out good or bad (“I ain't never forgiven my wife since the day she presented me with an idiot for a son”) whom they can't preselect as in adoption, i.e. (Prov. 20:11) “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” Or they may not have children, as would be the case if “Mike” were in prison and had to communicate with Junior through a screen on his visits, but we'd categorize them still as "married" to cover all contingencies. That is onto­logic­ally different from the marriage beneath the sheets of Junior and Trigger, which will never produce any colts no matter what they do.

Junior climbing a tree to “Mike's” balcony asks a bird to speak to a bee, so I imagine we may discuss these matters relating to this movie. I live in a liberal university town where I've had periodic discussions with people who favor same-sex marriages to give "queers" legal parity with straights in marital benefits, but they don't use the construction "gay marriage" as that holds another innocent and/or religious meaning, although one might get by with "gay & lesbian marriage" as that would contex­tual­ize the term(s). News­papers are a little looser, I've noticed.

Production Values

“Son of Paleface” (1952) is a sequel to the 1948 Bob Hope/Jane Russell film “The Paleface”—an enjoyable comedy. “Son” was remade in 1968 as “The shakiest gun in the West.” “Son” was directed by Frank Tashlin. Tashlin introduces cinematic special effects in the style of animation: odd camera angles, montage and quick-paced editing. It was written by Frank Tashlin, Robert L. Welch, and Joseph Quillan. It stars Roy Rogers, Trigger, Jane Russell and Bob Hope. Jane Russell was gorgeous and sultry. Roy was a horse­man par excellence. Bob Hope was the quint­essen­tial funny man. Trigger hogged the blanket.

It was approved according to the code of decency in effect at the time, and while some humor might be over the heads of kiddies, it should be watch­able by the whole family … as long as they can handle some western violence and solo sudsy bath scenes. The cartoonish defiance of physics during an Indian chase will counter­balance some of the cynicism, and Bob Hope's high hopes Roy's indifference to the pretty lady. It was shot in Technicolor.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

“Son” was a hoot. It had action, comedy, pretty dancing girls, outrageous lines, a trick pony, and decent singing. The over­abundance of clichés only added to its charm. I think most anyone will like this one, even some­one who usually doesn't like westerns.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with a modicum of guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.