Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street opened nationwide yesterday, and is already being hailed or denigrated as a (slightly) legalized Goodfellas (1990). This Jurassic Party-like-its-1999 features lizard Leonardo DiCaprio, turtle Jonah Hill, and many species of snakes led by Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous) and Matthew McConaughey. Kyle Chandler continues his run of ‘good’ government roles (Super 8, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty) as an FBI agent seeking to close the party down.
In honor of Chandler’s performance — and for a little historical taking of stock — I recommend watching Wall Street Cowboy (1939) starring Roy Rogers (when I saw this, I realized of whom Chandler has reminded me, back from when I first viewed him as he played Hollywood action hero Bruce Baxter in Peter Jackson’s King Kong (2005)). This film is from the first year or so of Rogers’ stardom, so ‘Singing Cowboy’ autopilot has not fully kicked in, and although he does sing (as he had been doing with the Son of Pioneers) and cowboy, here, he also jockeys (for real and with Wall Street big shots, who, with their gangster associates, want the Molybdenum deposits on his ranch).
All the while, the youthful Roy works the genuine-heartthrob angle quite effectively. He is privileged to be paired with the elite free agent of Western sidekicks, George ‘Gabby’ Hayes, who previously (as ‘Windy’ Hayes) had worked with ‘Hopalong’ Cassidy, and would also work with John Wayne and Randolph Scott. ‘Gabby’ was so big he got his OWN sidekick — Raymond Hatton, who himself had an almost 500-picture career, the final bit coming as a hitchhiker in Richard Brooks’ Capote-adaptation In Cold Blood (1967). Also featured here are Ann Baldwin (notable to this piece as the next year she would perform in a film titled Wolf of New York, also about a criminal Manhattan mastermind) and Craig Reynolds as a heavy actually quite dashing in his own right (not surprising as he had starred in the acclaimed Perils of Pauline serials from 1933, among other promising roles. Unfortunately, his career would be derailed by service and injury during WWII).
Scenery-wise, this is not the most spectacular of westerns, apart from a couple of shots (some of which look like they may be in an early version of Pioneertown, CA — which Rogers would soon help build). There is also an entertaining ‘night club’ scene, ostensibly on Long Island, although its billed performer is one Louisiana Lou.
Classic Westerns are streaming on The Western Channel via FilmOn:
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