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!