IN OLD CALIFORNIA [1942] movie review

September 7, 2013 · Print This Article

I was going to write that IN OLD CALIFORNIA [1942] was an early John Wayne western, but he had already been in dozens of movies even before this 1942 one. CALIFORNIA follows one of the most common western plots, a new man in town comes in conflict with the town bully.

Wayne plays a pharmacist (Tom Craig) from Boston who moved to California because something told him to. He is very well mannered and dresses very fancy, especially in comparison to the locals even in San Francisco. His manners immediately catch the eye of a pretty singer (Lacey) who just happens to be the girl of the aforementioned town bully (Britt Dawson). They are all on a boat together to Sacramento, that is until Britt has Tom thrown off the boat for calling him a liar, which of course he was.

After getting a taste of manners from a gentlemen, Lacey never takes her eyes off Tom, who does meet a proper lady himself and falls in love with her, though she likes him for his manners too, but that is all. In the meantime Britt does not let Tom be trying to shut him out of his business and trying to set him up for murder.

A sudden gold strike and an epidemic of typhus fever overshadow their rivalry and bring all their stories to conclusion in a satisfying way, showing some actual character arc and growth! The acting style of CALIFORNIA is definitely of its time, but I found it entertaining.

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