The West is a mighty perilous place. A man needs a good horse, a trusty shootin' iron and steady nerve. And one more thing, according to aging cowpoke Will Lane (Buddy Ebsen): a bride.
Director Burt Kennedy lassos plenty of laughs as well as action in Mail Order Bride, much as he'd do later in the memorable comic westerns Support Your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunfighter. The story follows Lane as he plays dad to his dead friend's rowdy son Lee (Keir Dullea). Via a mail-order catalogue, he finds the young man a widow (Lois Nettleton) with a little boy. Lee prefers raising hell to raising a family. But a whirlwind of Wild West action may force Lee to grow up - and appreciate the gentle heart of his new bride."
Many viewers avoided MAIL ORDER BRIDE upon its first release, assuming (thanks to MGM's shoddy promotional campaign) that the picture had been slapped together to capitalize on the popularity of BEVERLY HILLBILLIES star Buddy Ebsen. In truth, the film is an engaging and involving western drama, with Ebsen playing a character far removed from Jed Clampett. The mail order bride in question is not for Ebsen but for the wild young frontiersman in his charge (Keir Dullea). It is Buddy's hope that the girl will tame the boy (the son of an old friend) and give him some sense of responsibility. Lois Nettelton is the proper young lady who fills the bill. In the closing scenes, director Burt Kennedy restages the climactic shootout from 1962's RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, which Kennedy scripted. MAIL ORDER BRIDE is not only a satisfactory vehicle for Buddy Ebsen, but it also allows him an opportunity to sing the title song.
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