The Cowboy and the Lady (1938)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Merle Oberon and Gary Cooper in The Cowboy and the Lady (1938)

Catching a Cowboy

With her father focused on his political ambitions the last thing he needs from Mary (Merle Oberon) is to create scandal by going dancing and night clubbing. It is whilst staying at Palm Beach that a bored Mary convinces her maids to take her out with them to the Rodeo Cafeteria as that is where the cowboys from the rodeo hang out. And it is there that Mary meets Stretch (Gary Cooper), a straight talking cowboy who doesn't recognize Mary and so believes her when she says she is a maid having come from a home where her father beat her. One thing leads to another and Mary ends up going with Stretch and getting married by the Captain of a boat as they head to Galveston. But of course Mary is left in a quandary as not only has she been lying to Stretch but she needs to tell her father that she has a married a cowboy.

There are those movies which whilst you might never have watched before when you do get around to them you get a feel that you have. "The Cowboy and the Lady" is one of those movies because it is a light weight screwball comedy from 1938 which sees a young woman lying to the guy she falls for, pretending to not be rich whilst also having to deal with keeping things from her politically ambitious father. That is it and I wish I could tell you that "The Cowboy and the Lady" was full of great comedy, memorable lines and equally memorable slapstick but none of it is that sharp that it becomes unforgettable. Maybe that comes down to this being a movie which went through the hands of at least 17 screenwriters as well as various directors, which is rarely a good thing.

But what "The Cowboy and the Lady" has is plain and simple; good old actor appeal with Gary Cooper and Merle Oberon delivering plenty of appeal in ever scene they are in, either separately or together. Between smiles which light up the screen to some beautifully crafted romantic scenes they look so good together. And it is because they look so good together that somehow even some of the daftest gags, including one with a yet to be built house, ends up more funny than it really should be.

What this all boils down to is that "The Cowboy and the Lady" is not a great comedy, in fact most of the humour in it is forgettable. But it has a certain appeal which makes it watchable which is simply the appeal of Gary Cooper and Merle Oberon.


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