Callaway Went Thataway (1951)

81-82 mins | Comedy | 28 December 1951

Cinematographer:

Ray June

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Eddie Imazu

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Panama and Frank's credit reads: "Written, produced and directed by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank." Howard Keel is listed twice in the closing credits, first as "Smoky Callaway," then as "Stretch Barnes." The film ends with the following written statement: "This picture was made in the spirit of fun and was meant in no way to detract from the wholesome influence, civic-mindedness and the many charitable contributions of western idols of our American youth, or to be a portrayal of any of them." According to news items in DV and Var , the disclaimer was added to distance the film from any known Western star, especially William Boyd, who portrayed "Hopalong Cassidy" in the television series of the same name, which ran from 24 Jun 1949 through 23 Dec 1951, was syndicated for many years and was one of the burgeoning television medium's first large-scale successes. Like "Smoky Callaway" in Callaway Went Thataway , Boyd was hired to make additional films for television after edited versions of his theatrical films of the 1930s and 1940s became national sensations. Also like the film's hero, Boyd made personal appearances, many for charitable causes, and numerous products featuring his likeness as Hopalong Cassidy, from lunch boxes to clothing, were sold during the early 1950s. A DV news item on 15 Nov 1951 stated that Boyd's manager, Ben Stabler, had demanded to see a preview of Callaway Went Thataway to "ascertain if it did reflect unfavorably on Boyd." The item noted that after Stabler saw the film he concluded that "the satire on the cowboy stars is a good, well-done ... More Less

Panama and Frank's credit reads: "Written, produced and directed by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank." Howard Keel is listed twice in the closing credits, first as "Smoky Callaway," then as "Stretch Barnes." The film ends with the following written statement: "This picture was made in the spirit of fun and was meant in no way to detract from the wholesome influence, civic-mindedness and the many charitable contributions of western idols of our American youth, or to be a portrayal of any of them." According to news items in DV and Var , the disclaimer was added to distance the film from any known Western star, especially William Boyd, who portrayed "Hopalong Cassidy" in the television series of the same name, which ran from 24 Jun 1949 through 23 Dec 1951, was syndicated for many years and was one of the burgeoning television medium's first large-scale successes. Like "Smoky Callaway" in Callaway Went Thataway , Boyd was hired to make additional films for television after edited versions of his theatrical films of the 1930s and 1940s became national sensations. Also like the film's hero, Boyd made personal appearances, many for charitable causes, and numerous products featuring his likeness as Hopalong Cassidy, from lunch boxes to clothing, were sold during the early 1950s. A DV news item on 15 Nov 1951 stated that Boyd's manager, Ben Stabler, had demanded to see a preview of Callaway Went Thataway to "ascertain if it did reflect unfavorably on Boyd." The item noted that after Stabler saw the film he concluded that "the satire on the cowboy stars is a good, well-done picture."
       Actor comedian Stan Freberg made his onscreen motion picture debut in Callaway Went Thataway . Freberg, who was a popular television and comedy recording performer, had previously provided voices to a number of animated and puppet characters for motion pictures and television, including the Time for Beanie television series. Although actress Argentina Brunetti is listed in the CBCS as "Irate Mother," she was not in the viewed print and her role may have been taken over by Louise Lorimer, who portrayed the angry woman in New York who criticizes "Smoky" for not giving more to disadvantaged children. According to news items, portions of the film were shot on location in San Francisco, CA. In addition, several interior and exterior scenes were shot in and around the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Nov 1951.
---
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1951
p. 3.
Daily Variety
15 Nov 1951.
---
Film Daily
15 Nov 1951
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 1951
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 1951
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1951
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 1951
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Nov 1951
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jan 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 Nov 1951
p. 1100.
New York Times
5 Dec 1951
p. 46.
New York Times
6 Dec 1951
p. 42.
Variety
14 Nov 1951
p. 6.
Variety
21 Nov 1951.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Johnny Indrisano
M-G-M guest stars:
Glen Gallagher
Wayne Treadway
Doug Carter
Paul Newlan
Earl Hodgins
Dorothy Andre
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Dorothy Maguire's ward des
Howard Keel's cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Mont seq
MAKEUP
Hair styles des
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
SONGS
"Where the Tumbleweed Is Blue," music and lyrics by Charles Wolcott.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 December 1951
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 5 December 1951
Production Date:
late April--early June 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 November 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1333
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
81-82
Length(in feet):
7,296
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15393
SYNOPSIS

Although children throughout America are mesmerized by television broadcasts of old Western movies starring singing cowboy "Smoky" Callaway, Mike Frey and Deborah Patterson, partners in the advertising firm that resurrected the films, are frustrated, because Smoky, a notorious drunk and womanizer, disappeared ten years ago. Their sponsor, Tom Lorrison, demands to see Smoky to decide if he wants to finance some new pictures for television, so Mike sends Georgie Markham, Smoky's last agent, to look for the missing star. After weeks of Georgie following fruitless leads from California to Mexico, Mike and Debbie are about to admit defeat when they receive a letter from "Stretch" Barnes, a Colorado cowhand who chastises them for televising movies of a man who looks just like him. Seeing the photo Stretch has sent as proof of the uncanny resemblance, Mike decides to go to Colorado and lure Stretch to Hollywood. Mike and Debbie are impressed with the naive but rugged Stretch and convince him to impersonate Smoky by telling him that Smoky has died and that millions of children who idolize him would be devastated. The money also appeals to the frugal Stretch, who dreams of owning a ranch. Unknown to Mike, Georgie has just located the real Smoky in a South American dive and shanghaied him aboard a slow boat to Los Angeles. When the unsophisticated Stretch arrives at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Debbie and Mike prepare him to meet Lorrison and his wife at the Mocambo nightclub. Stretch fails to recognize movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Clark Gable, and is shocked when Mrs. Lorrison reveals that she met a drunken Smoky years ago, but ... +


Although children throughout America are mesmerized by television broadcasts of old Western movies starring singing cowboy "Smoky" Callaway, Mike Frey and Deborah Patterson, partners in the advertising firm that resurrected the films, are frustrated, because Smoky, a notorious drunk and womanizer, disappeared ten years ago. Their sponsor, Tom Lorrison, demands to see Smoky to decide if he wants to finance some new pictures for television, so Mike sends Georgie Markham, Smoky's last agent, to look for the missing star. After weeks of Georgie following fruitless leads from California to Mexico, Mike and Debbie are about to admit defeat when they receive a letter from "Stretch" Barnes, a Colorado cowhand who chastises them for televising movies of a man who looks just like him. Seeing the photo Stretch has sent as proof of the uncanny resemblance, Mike decides to go to Colorado and lure Stretch to Hollywood. Mike and Debbie are impressed with the naive but rugged Stretch and convince him to impersonate Smoky by telling him that Smoky has died and that millions of children who idolize him would be devastated. The money also appeals to the frugal Stretch, who dreams of owning a ranch. Unknown to Mike, Georgie has just located the real Smoky in a South American dive and shanghaied him aboard a slow boat to Los Angeles. When the unsophisticated Stretch arrives at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Debbie and Mike prepare him to meet Lorrison and his wife at the Mocambo nightclub. Stretch fails to recognize movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Clark Gable, and is shocked when Mrs. Lorrison reveals that she met a drunken Smoky years ago, but Mike convinces Lorrison that "Smoky" no longer drinks and he agrees to finance a screen test. Stretch is not a good actor and members of the crew and cast, thinking that he is Smoky, put him through his paces for not remembering them. The director and Lorrison like the innocence he brings to the role, though, and predict success. Stretch, who declined to watch the test, is packing to leave, but Mike convinces him it is his duty to "the children" and urges him to make a personal appearance at a children's hospital. The children love the affable Stretch, and Mike arranges for him to take a nationwide tour as Smoky. While Mike works on a merchandising and advertising campaign, Stretch begins to enjoy his role as Smoky and falls in love with Debbie, who is touring with him. She gently refuses his proposal, saying that she is merely fond of him, but he gives her a ringbox and asks her to keep it in case she decides to wear the ring. Debbie makes a call to Mike, begging him to change places with her, but he quickly gets off the telephone when Georgie and the real Smoky walk into his office. While Stretch and Debbie are in New York, he is deeply affected when a woman lambasts him for not using his money to help the real children who need him, those who are impoverished or ill. Unaware that Debbie has just learned that the real Smoky intends to take back his identity, Stretch goes to an attorney to set up the Smoky Callaway Foundation for disadvantaged children, intending it to receive all but a small portion of "Smoky's" sizeable earnings. When Debbie learns about his selflessness, she is touched and cannot bring herself to tell him that legally Smoky is entitled to all of the money. As she and Stretch travel back to Los Angeles, a reluctant Mike pays to send Smoky to a training camp to get him in shape. Because someone has been sneaking liquor to Smoky, he is not sound enough to appear at a contract-signing ceremony, so Mike and Debbie continue to keep Stretch in the dark while he signs Smoky's contract. That night, Lorrison takes Debbie, Mike and Stretch to a nightclub for dinner. There, Mike gets a call from Georgie saying that Smoky has run away and is heading to Hollywood. While Stretch is in the men's room, Mike sees the intoxicated Smoky at the bar and tries to get him to leave. A few moments later, Stretch and Smoky meet in the parking lot and an angry Stretch leaves after realizing that he has been duped. Even the remorseful Debbie cannot get Stretch to talk to her. When one of Stretch's lawyers comes to the hotel and confirms that if he signs the foundation papers, no one can use the money for anything but the intended purpose, Stretch calls Mike to say that he will appear at a charity event at the Coliseum for the offered $5,000, and secretly plans to reveal the truth. Before Stretch leaves the hotel, Smoky comes to his room and the two fight. When Mike arrives, he gets into the scuffle and he and Smoky are knocked unconscious by Stretch. When Smoky awakens, he has had enough of Hollywood and decides to return to South America. At the Coliseum, Debbie convinces Stretch that the children really need him and shows him that she is now wearing the ring. Stretch then rides onto the field and delights the audience as Mike wishes Debbie well. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.