The title of this screwball western comedy is a real tongue twister. But it’s a good way to describe Betty Grable and the character she plays. Although Winfred “Freddie” Jones is beautiful, she’s anything but bashful. Especially when using firearms. In the opening segment she learns to fire a gun at her grandpappy’s knee.
In fact little Freddie is not allowed to play with her favorite doll until she has completed her shooting practice each day. Grandpappy won’t always be around and these skills might come in handy. Take that. Bang! And that. Bang bang!
Flash forward to Freddie as a saloon singer twenty years later. She now has considerable skill with a gun. She’s in love with a good-for-nothing gambler named Jobero (Cesar Romero). While performing a musical number she leaves the stage, goes into the crowd then up a long staircase. The scene shows off her trademark legs. As she works her way up the stairs, the crowd below thinks it’s part of her act.
Jobero is in one of the rooms above the saloon with another girl, and when the song ends Freddie hurries down the hall to pump him full of lead. Unfortunately she hits a judge in the backside who was in middle of a romantic rendezvous of his own. This is a Preston Sturges movie where characters do crazy things. The production code never seems to interfere with Sturges’ stories, since the scenarios are depicted as broad farces. Perhaps this lax “morality” is why the film did not do well with audiences in 1949. Seeing a gal solve her problems by shooting people is a lot to accept.
In the next part Freddie gets out of jail and takes a train with her friend (Olga San Juan). She intends to start a new life and assumes the identity of a schoolmarm. While working as a teacher she puts the fear of god into some wicked kids with, what else, her gun. This kind of stuff would not fly today given the amount of school shootings that have occurred. The supporting cast includes character actors and actresses that worked with Sturges on earlier films. They’re experts and make the most of the contrived premise. None of them ever react to the situations or to each other. They are too busy hamming it up and setting up the next gag. It gets wilder and wilder.
THE BEAUTIFUL BLONDE FROM BASHFUL BEND may currently be streamed on Starz.