Fun Size Review: The Lady of the Dugout (1918)

Real-life outlaw Al Jennings wasn’t a very good bandit but he found success in the movies as a consultant and star.  This picture claims to be based on real events (grain of salt) and is a slow-moving but interesting film.

W.S. Van Dyke, who would later find success directing hits like The Thin Man, proves his worth capturing the local landscape. (The film was shot on location in Tehachapi, California.) More fun for what it is than for what actually appears on the screen.

How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.

The Jennings brothers help the impoverished lady of the dugout return home and then they ride off into the sunset.

If it were a dessert it would be: Molasses Cookies. Old-fashioned in the extreme but that’s kind of the point.

Read my full-length review here.

Availability: Released on DVD as part of the excellent Treasures 5: The West box set. The film has also been released on DVD by Grapevine packaged with other Al Jennings titles.

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9 Replies to “Fun Size Review: The Lady of the Dugout (1918)”

  1. Your review is good, but there are many ‘facts’ of misinformation on Mr Jennings. Allow me to send you my biographical article, on him, from SILENT FILM QUARTERLY.

    1. I’m not sure that even Jennings knew what the truth was by this point and I really can’t respond without specifics. Feel free to pass the specific error on in a comment or via the contact form. Thanks!

      1. NOTE: The original commenter never responded to my request for specifics and his article is behind a paywall. I am happy to deal with specific errors but I will not pay for the privilege of reading somebody else’s article when I have no idea what I am looking for or what they are talking about.

      2. Thank you but I would like the specific error pointed out and a source (other than your website) to back it up. I am up to my neck in research for other posts and I don’t have time to read your entire site and play Button Button.

      3. As a film historian, I have spent years researching Al Jennings, among other aspects. We are all up to our necks in research. Kevin Brownlow knows very well of my research on Al, and his book the War, the West and the Wilderness is but one book that goes into some detail about the film. Many, in fact most, of Al’s films are lost.

        He told tales, but not as wildly as most of the sheriff’s of his time. Especially Matthew Tilghman, who was a definitive braggart. Also, many Western historians tend to nit pick the West they want to recount. Among them, Glenn Shirley, who seems to pick and choose his research, especially about Al, as a lawyer and bandit.

        If an “apple dumpling” bandit as you like to say, perhaps then Don Knotts should have played Al. But, you are not pursued by some of the top law enforcement officers of the territory, or sentenced to life in prison, for being a so-called “comic bandit”. These men, Marshal Tilghman, Bud Ledbetter, and others would have sent others to do their work for them.

        If sent to life in prison, and you get President McKinley to commute your sentence at the behest of Mark Hannah, and the same man, convinces President Theodore Roosevelt you deserve a Pardon. That’s no small potatoes.

        Also, Al, never claimed to be of service during the Civil War, he was born November, 1863, the same month as the Gettysburg Address. Another old wives tale is that Al was ‘smuggled past’ deputies rolled up in a carpet roll carried by his wife. Hogwash, Al wasn’t married until after his release from prison. In fact for their honeymoon, they rode in a covered wagon to visit relatives of his wife, that’s how old the West still was, after the turn of the century.

        He may not have had the heights or notoriety of a Jesse James, but it is high time historians of both the West and Film give Al his just due. He may have died with his boots off, in 1961… but he outlived many, and made many films, not just a handful.

        He might have not had the backing of huge studios when making his films, but he did work for big studios in other’s films. Al is a part of film history and a part of Western history.

      4. I have tried to be polite after this months-long runaround but all I received were vague mentions of errors and directions to buy an expensive magazine and constant admonitions to read your personal website. I am thrilled that people find your research useful but you must admit that this is hardly an orderly way to go about things. Next time, something like “Your review states ABC but I have found XYZ to be the case and here is a properly cited source” would be far more helpful. I realize that researching somebody’s career can lead to emotional attachment but this is really a case where a simple statement of fact (rather than a wall of text that brings up items never mentioned in the review) would be more useful. And, you know, citations.

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