Gary Cooper does a Roy Rogers Impersonation

Gary Cooper in Along Came Jones (1945)

Laid back, wandering cowboy Melody Jones (Gary Cooper) finds himself in the small town of Payneville after taking the wrong turning. Much to his confusion the townsfolk appear scared of him unaware that they think he is Monte Jarrad (Dan Duryea), the notorious outlaw who has been terrorizing the area. With there being some who would like to claim the $1000 reward for Monte's capture, either dead or alive, Melody finds himself being rescued by pretty Cherry de Longpre (Loretta Young) who he quickly falls for. What he doesn't know is that Cherry is Monte's gal and as he is holed up injured on her family ranch she plans to use Melody as a decoy whilst Monte escapes another way.

"Along Came Jones" starts with Melody and his buddy riding in to Payneville and two things struck me. One was the fact that the scene of them riding in was clearly shot in front of a projection screen and the other was with Melody singing a little ditty this storyline of mistaken identity could have just as easily have been written for someone like Roy Rogers. In fact with "Along Came Jones" being a comedy western featuring mistaken identity and some romance you might say it was better suited to Roy Rogers or any of those other cowboy actors who were making those one hour westerns at the time this was made.

Loretta Young in Along Came Jones (1945)

Now I would like to say that "Along Came Jones" is a memorably entertaining western with a good storyline but truth be told the storyline is simple and feels stretched out to make it last 90 minutes. What we have after an opening series of close shaves and gags as the towns folk mistake Melody for Monte is Cherry who is in love with a badden falling for the good natured Melody having previously planned to use him. There is of course more but not a lot and like the opening comedy it feels stretched out to make the movie last 90 minutes giving it plenty of scenes which do little other than focus on one of the movie's stars good looks.

That is another thing which struck me about "Along Came Jones", director Stuart Heisler's use of close ups especially when it came to Gary Cooper and Loretta Young. Now in one way I'm not complaining as Cooper was a handsome man and Loretta Young had the eyes and smile which could make you fall in love with her the first time she looked at the camera but with so many scenes featuring close ups it adds to the sense of this being a slim storyline eked out beyond what worked. And in truth whilst Gary Cooper gave Melody a pleasant, nice guy temperament it was pretty much everyone around him delivering the comedy with Cooper giving the occasional funny face.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Along Came Jones" is a pleasant western distraction benefiting the likeable nature of Gary Cooper and Loretta Young it isn't anything special. In fact it feels like someone took a storyline best suited to one of those one hour westerns and then stretched it out to make it last 90 minutes.

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