R. Taylor v. W. Beery In Stand Up and Fight (1939)
Fallen aristocrat Robert Taylor heads west,
falls prey to Wallace Beery's slave-running cabal. W.S Van Dyke directs for his
usual speed; also there's snowy location and lively fisticuffs staged thereon.
Whatever doubt lingered over Taylor's
he-man-ness is put to rest when he whips burly Beery. Not quite a western; it
starts with a foxhunt and Taylor
is equal part genteel and rugged. A slave angleisn't on margins, the narrative
being all about how freed ones were often recaptured/resold by outlaws. Beery
is uncouth per formula and an essential "good" badman in accord with
MGM wont and censor-mandate. It was S.O.P. to team him with a lead man who
could carry romance bags, in this case Taylor
vis a vis Florence Rice. Flavor of the period is conveyed by steam trains going
over wooden track we'd last seen in Buster Keaton's Our Hospitality. Some of
the gags are so close that I wonder if comedy consultant Keaton, by then on
Metro payroll, wasn't brought in to sweeten them.