The New Look Duke
As part of my extraordinarily protracted birthday celebrations, we had my folks round for tea two days before the Big Event, and ended up watching THE SPOILERS, as you do, a loud Alaskan punch-up starring John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich and Randolph Scott (in an uncharacteristic oleaginous bad-guy role — he pulls it off nicely) which, while not as amiably daffy as SEVEN SINNERS, the other Wayne-Dietrich collision (essentially the same film, only with more gags and lugubrious White Russian campster Mischa Auer), is a pretty good time-waster.
But the sight of Wayne blacking up with burnt cork to steal his money back from the bank is a little uneasy… when he puts his white hat on, the camouflage idea is rather ruined, and when he subsequently flirts with Frau Dietrich’s maid, Marietta Canty (REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE) who knows Wayne well but is somehow fooled into thinking he’s a newly arrived “coloured man,” and when he refers to his “Alabama tan,” the mind somewhat boggles/flips/splutters.
The racial masquerade is somewhat redeemed by the Duke’s later appearance in drag, eating a hard-boiled egg. Something about this image diffuses any previous offense — to the extent that if we all carried it around mentally at the front of our minds, there would be no more war.
Try it and see!