Thursday, August 29, 2013

Helen Chapman in Outlaw Roundup (1944)

I readily admit a fondness for PRC westerns. Uncomplicated little oaters with a wonderful stock company of old reliables doing what they do best and paying little or no heed to PRC nicknames like Pretty Rotten Crap or, worse yet, Prick Productions.  OUTLAW ROUNDUP is typical: a solid plot that has the eponymous TEXAS RANGERS, James Newill, Dave O'Brien and Guy Wilkerson, go undercover to track down the buried loot of imprisoned bandit Jack Ingram. Along for the ride are such fondly remembered genre perennials as I. Stanford Jolley, Charlie King, Reed Howes, Frank Ellis, Budd Buster and, on the side of law and order for a change, Bud Osborne. And Helen Chapman as Sheriff Osborne's pretty daughter.

Chapman, truth be told, sounds OUTLAW ROUNDUP's only sour note, a pedestrian performance even for PRC. So more startling is it to find Miss Chapman a few years later costarring with Todd Karns, of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE fame, in JACKSON AND JILL (1949), a pre I LOVE LUCY television sitcom, in which she is Karns' dumbbell wife. It is, of course, a completely politically incorrect performance but not bad really for all that. You may find JACKSON AND JILL episodes online and, like this writer, wonder why Helen Chapman's career remained as low wattage as it did. 

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