Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sheila Stuart (Oregon Trail)

Sheila Stuart plays the bit role of a nurse in the 1945 Sunset Carson oater Oregon Trail, whose leading lady -- almost needless to say -- is Peggy Stewart (no relation). Sheila was under contract to Republic Pictures 7-24-1944 through 1-23-1945. This appears to have been her only Western -- she played bits in mostly comedies and musicals -- and I have included her, well, because I own the photo.

For the sake of completion, this is what Republic offered Sheila Stuart to say and do in Oregon Trail: (To a recuperating Sunset Carson:) “You'll have to ask the doctor” and (showing in Peggy Stewart): “There's someone to see you.” She says both lines with conviction. More conviction, in fact, than the many lines uttered by one Steve Winston, who plays the much more important role of the town newspaper editor. Winston, who had drifted around Hollywood for a couple of years going nowhere fast, made his sole Republic appearance here and one can only surmise that his presence was to offset the amateurish line readings of star Sunset Carson. But Carson's aw shucks style is actually charming and fits his character whereas Mr. Winston is merely wooden and off-putting. Much more infectious is the veteran Mary Carr, of Little Rascals fame, who plays Peggy Stewart's grandma and at one point sizes up the hunky Sunset with what appears to be a wee bit of geriatric lust. Not too coincidentally, perhaps, Mrs. Carr was the mother of the film's director, Thomas Carr.

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