Saddle Tramp. 1950. USA. Directed by Hugo Fregonese. Screenplay by Harold Shumate. With Joel McCrea, Wanda Hendrix, John Russell, John McIntire. 35mm courtesy of Universal Pictures. 90 min.
Like Alfred Hitchcock with The Trouble with Harry, Fregonese here offers a benign, comic inversion of his regular themes. Joel McCrea, at the height of his casual amiability, plays an itinerant cowhand merrily eluding responsibility as he drifts through the western landscape, only to find himself gradually sacrificing his freedom to care for some orphaned kids, an abused young woman (Wanda Hendrix), and a neglected ranch, weaving himself into exactly the kind of community Fregonese’s usual protagonists would literally kill to escape.