Way out west, the peace of Stodge City is shattered when the dreaded Rumpo Kid (Sid James) rides into town and guns down the sheriff.
Marshal P Knutt (yes, Marshal is his name – You can see where the confusion is heading), a travelling British Sanitary Engineer, finds himself suckered with the job of making the town safe, with some secret help.
Sid James is a convincing, blood-chilling bandit who fully deserves his baddie black hat.
The gags and comic situations are there merely to counterbalance an evil plan of American domination, greed and murder, and attempts at dispatching favourites like Jim Dale and Kenneth Williams.
Joan Sims relished the chance to turn on seductive Mae West-like charms and works brilliantly off Sid – oozing glamour in her tight, black low-cut gown.
Amongst the supporting actors there are two fine minor turns from a couple of valued newcomers: Bernard Bresslaw, booming and yelling his Red Indian anger at every opportunity, and Peter Butterworth fidgeting in the background and stealing every scene he appears in.
The delightful Angela Douglas, in a return to the straight leading ladies throws another log on the feminist fire with her rebel rousing, gun-wielding heroine.
Jim Dale, finally gaining a major romantic lead role and playing it to perfection, brilliantly brings the regular foreigner abroad character to life.
As the token English character, Jim’s mistaken hero tackles all the Western clichés and cinematic echoes. The only American character to inject elements of his clichéd persona is Indian chief, Charles Hawtrey.
The entire film establishes the idea of the Carry On team as Americans and Thomas cunningly builds up the tension for the first appearance of a fearsome Indian.
The fact that we get the small cough, twinkling grin and sparkling eyes of Charlie Hawtrey is a peak of contrasting comic effect.
Celebrated as one of the most professionally produced and effective films in the series, Cowboy is a western field of dreams where Sid’s dark villain literally gets away with murder, Jim Dale gets the gal of his fantasies, Charles Hawtrey happily drinks away the Indian blues and Bresslaw and Butterworth get a memorable baptism of fire.
Director Gerald Thomas stated that this (the 11th in the series) was the most enjoyable to make of all the Carry On films.
Marshal P Knutt