‘Vincent Price’s ham actor is artfully overplayed‘
Hollywood Reporter, 24 May, 1950
Released on 25 May 1950, Universal’s Curtain Call at Cactus Creek (aka Take the Stage in the UK) was a knockabout comedy Western which gave Vincent Price the chance to play the ham to the hilt for the first time.
As the vain Tracy Holland, he leads a travelling theatrical troupe in the Old West that includes Donald O’Connor’s dogsbody Edward Timmons, Gale Storm’s stage star Julie Martin and Eve Arden’s ex-hoofer Lily Martin. Walter Brennan is crusty bank robber Rimrock, who is hiding out with the troupe, and who uses it a ruse to stage another job. But when poor Edward is jailed as his accomplice, Rimrock sets out to make him a hero…
Although rarely screened these days (and unavailable as an official home entertainment release), this is one of the best comedy Westerns ever made – with some inventive shoehorning of theatrical vignettes that include old music hall numbers and a fantastic sketch called Ruined by Drink, in which Price dons a shaggy wig to play a drunkard dad overcome with remorse.
Price really delivers on the comic front, and his sing-song affected voice is a hoot (he also gets to play a sneering moustache-twirling villain). While mainly a vehicle for Donald O’Connor to show off his physical comedy, it does allow the rest of the cast to shine, particularly Eve Arden, who gets in some quotable dialogue like: ‘Tracy, you’re a very romantic man. You’re conducting one of the great love affairs of all time – with yourself’.