I fully expected The Dude Goes West (1948) to be a knock-off of Bob Hope's Paleface movies. To my surprise, it turned to be a bright, original Western comedy that opts for clever humor instead of broad gags.
Eddie Albert stars as a Daniel Bone, a Brooklyn gunsmith who decides to relocate out West so he can grow his business. His destination is the dubiously-titled Arsenic City, which we later learn is overrun by notorious badmen like the Pecos Kid and Texas Jack Barton. Daniel may be a tenderfoot, but he is also a "great reader" and his book knowledge will come in handy during his frontier adventures.
Gale Storm as Liza Crockett.
During his almost Ozian journey to Arsenic City, Daniel befriends several people who will play a significant role in his exploits: A grizzled cowboy (James Gleason) with a fondness for playing poker; Texas (Barton MacLane), a distrusting cowpoke with a mysterious bullet in his leg; and a whole tribe of Paiute Indians. He also falls for a young woman (Gale Storm), a fellow Easterner trying to locate her dead father's gold mine. Of course, the Pecos Kid (Gilbert Roland) and tough, cigar-smoking saloon owner Kiki Kelly (Binnie Barnes) also aim to stake a claim to that goldmine.
Veteran character actor James Gleason.
Veterans like Gleason and MacLane excel in their well-written parts, but it's Eddie Albert that claims the spotlight. Despite a long acting career dating back to the 1939 comedy Brother Rat, Albert never achieved stardom as a lead actor. Still, he earned Best Supporting Actor nominations for Roman Holiday (1953) and The Heartbreak Kid (1972) and became a legitimate TV star in Green Acres (1965-71) and later Switch (1975-78). He's at his best as the resourceful, determined gunsmith in The Dude Goes West.
Jock Mahoney as Yancy.
Naturally, it helps when you have a fine script courtesy of the husband-and-wife team of Richard Sale and Mary Loos (niece of Anita Loos). Instead of one-liners, they opt for situational humor. The film's funniest scene may be the one in which Texas learns that Daniel is a sharpshooter. When the outlaw marvels how a greenhorn can be such a good shot, Daniel replies casually that it's a handy skill to have when your profession is repairing firearms. (Note that Daniel's pipe turns into a derringer; ten years later, Sale and Loos would create the cult TV series Yancy Derringer about a Southern gentleman who also carried a derringer...or two.)
Speaking of television, it's a shame that Albert and the writers didn't revive The Dude Goes West as a TV series. I could easily imagine weekly episodes revolving around Daniel Bone's exploits in and around Arsenic City. I certainly would have watched.
Here's a clip from The Dude Goes West. You can view it full-screen on the Classic Film & TV Cafe's YouTube Channel. You can also stream the entire movie at warnerarchive.com.