Beauregard (Don Murray) is a naive rancher who’s 21-going-on-35 and has apparently never met a woman before. To remedy this, he and pal Virgil (Arthur O’Connell) travel to the city for Beau to select a wife. Virgil urges for him to settle for a woman with a good personality, but Beau is insistent on getting his angel, “and if she gives me any trouble she’ll find herself with those wings pinned to the ground.”
He finds such an angel in the form of Cherie (Marilyn Monroe), a singer in a sleazy bar, and sets about winning her over with all his best lines, namely the entire Gettysburg Address. But before he can learn to say her name correctly he makes her an offer she can’t refuse: a rodeo wedding. When she unfathomably declines, he literally lassos her to take her back to his ranch, making John Wayne’s character in North to Alaska look like Mr Darcy.
While it has the staggering implausibility of a farce comedy it lacks the humour, resulting in little more than a badly plotted and morally repugnant romance. Beau’s advances are so over the top, even by the standards of the day, and Cherie’s resistance so apparent, that it’s hard to feel anything but discomfort as their relationship unfolds. It also features extended rodeo scenes, which may have added to the entertainment value for an audience in the 50s but really don’t now.
Monroe does a pretty decent job with the part, including a passable Southern drawl, but her song and dance numbers fall well short of her other output. This was a deliberate choice on her part, as this was the first film in which her contract gave her creative control, but it’s a horribly misguided one. While it may not be realistic to find someone who looks and sounds like Monroe in a dive bar, the rest of the film is so implausible this hardly makes it more convincing, and deprives us of seeing Monroe at her flawless best.
Personally I prefer Monroe when she’s manipulating an older sleazebag than as lasso fodder for an arrogant young buck, and the final product is about as romantic as a rodeo clown on a Routemaster.