Written and Posted by Sarah
By the mid-1950s, Dan Duryea was an established Western star. He had played the hero in numerous B-Westerns, while being well-known for playing notorious gunslingers in A-Westerns like Winchester '73 and Ride Clear of Diablo. Of course, Dan D.'s name was not always associated with Westerns. The studio kept him in roles that followed the pattern of The Little Foxes (or roles like the blackmailer in The Woman in the Window).
Along Came Jones was the 1945 picture from Gary Cooper's production company "International Pictures". It was also the only film where Gary Cooper acted as producer as well as actor. He joined forces with Nunnally Johnson to spoof his own typical Western persona.
The plot involves an out-of-work cowpoke, Melody Jones (Cooper), who arrives in a typical B-Western town with his pal (William Demarest). Jones is mistaken for the wanted outlaw, Monte Jarrad. Jones is anything but the capable cowboy, being totally inept with a pistol. He ends up getting caught in a web of events surrounding the Jarrad and Jarrad's girl, Cherry De Longpre (Loretta Young).
Along Came Jones was Dan Duryea's first Western role, and (you guessed it!) he played the outlaw, Monte Jarrad. This is a real "baddie" character. There's nothing sympathetic about Dan's part in this one, and he sure is convincing. He appears in the first scenes of the film as he holds up a stagecoach along a desert road. If you're interested in reading a blow-by-blow synopsis of the film, just CLICK HERE (TCM page).
Don't read any farther if you haven't seen this film yet.
Dan is wounded as he rides away from the stage robbery, so the next time we see him is when he is hiding out in Cherry's barn. He gets a typical Duryea scene with Loretta Young --- complete with a slap in the face (he's doing the slapping, of course). This scene shows the audience what a bad guy this Monte Jarrad really is.
He doesn't appear much throughout the center of the film, though the character is referred to quite often. He's back in full force for the finale, however. The final shootout is a spoof on all of the typical Western finales. Dan forces poor Melody Jones to swap clothes with him. He's planning on killing Jones, so that the law will mistake his body for the outlaw. Fortunately, Cherry arrives in time to stop this dastardly deed. She sends Jones out to the barn (where she follows after having words with Jarrad). The law has the place surrounded by this time, but they stand back to let "Coop" and Dan shoot it out. Of course, Dan has the upper hand in this fight, since he actually knows how to aim a six-shooter. He shoots Cooper in the arm, leg and other places. But, just when our hero is about finished, Cherry steps in and gets Dan right between the eyes. The end of this film is just hilarious, so I won't spoil it here.
All in all, this is a real bad guy role for Mr. Duryea. He's very young, and it's neat to see him in the earl Western clothes. He does a fabulous job at being totally unlikeable, so you're not sorry in the least to see him die during the showdown. The film is hilarious, in a simple sort of way, and certainly worth watching for any fan of old Westerns. If you like B-Westerns, then you're sure to see the humor in this one.