Watch Lay That Rifle Down
- 1 hr 11 min
A winning mixture of slapstick with sentiment, this black and white Republic Pictures vehicle for talented bumpkin Judy Canova profits from the well-liked comedienne's vaudeville background, thereby evading sugary components that should have lessened the appeal of a work that additionally includes a very experienced cast and crew under the able direction of veteran Charles Lamont. Canova, playing as herself, is employed as charwoman and general maintenance worker at her aunt's hotel in "Greebville", striving to earn enough money to cover mortgage payments for her run-down "ranch" where she lives along with three orphaned youngsters and, as a means of forestalling boredom, Judy is also subscribing to a mail order course with the Continental Correspondence School, hoping therewith to find true love. After fibbing to her aunt and cousin that she has already found a beau, the fanciful "Poindexter March" who is coming while on military leave to visit her by bus, Judy is driven to the town's bus station where she desperately accosts a single man (Robert Lowery) and persuades him to pose as her swain, presenting a golden opportunity for him, because he is a confidence man, and her abrupt attachment to him enables "Poindexter" to shift into high gear with his crime partner for a swindle of the locals, eventually drawing out the greedy worst from Judy's relatives along with the small town's banker. The film, shot in the San Fernando Valley, is paced nicely, having nary a dull moment, and editing by Arthur Roberts is accomplished in crisp fashion. Considered a musical comedy, the work showcases Canova performing three numbers, including her well-known rendition of "Sleepy Serenade" and a newly composed novelty item, "I'm Awful Glad I Was Born On My Birthday", all lip synched here. The film's characters are more provincial than hayseed, and a well-written screenplay supplies interest within a viewer for each. Sprightly Canova is always enjoyable to watch in action, and she is ably backed here by a talented supporting cast of largely seasoned actors, Richard Deacon gaining performing honours for his astringently humorous turn as an avaricious bank official attempting to foreclose upon Judy's ranch for his personal financial benefit, while even the three children cared for by Canova play smoothly, closely coached by director Lamont.