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Film / Hot Lead and Cold Feet

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Hot Lead and Cold Feet is a 1978 Disney Western comedy starring Jim Dale. Slightly grittier and more cynical than some of Disney's other live action comedies, it was mildly successful, but changing times led to it being one of the last of Disney's live action comedy westerns (Bullwhip Griffin, Apple Dumpling Gang, etc).

In this film, the wealthy and deranged old coot Jasper Bloodshy (Dale) fakes his own death and leaves a will naming his twin sons as heirs. The preacher, Eli (also Dale), is fine with the division of the estate, but his gunslinger brother Wild Billy (Dale, once again) is manipulated by sleazy Mayor Ragsdale (Darren McGavin) into issuing a challenge, with Eli's share at stake. To resolve the dispute, the Mayor pits the two brothers against each other in a series of obstacle courses. Billy is willing to try all kinds of dirty tricks on his brother, until Eli saves Billy's life at the risk of his own. This moves Billy to team up with his brother against the mayor's minions. (This is a Disney film, you know). In a subplot, the local town sheriff, Denver Kid (Don Knotts), keeps trying to duel Rattlesnake (Jack Elam) simply because Rattlesnake thinks Kid insulted his sister. Hilarity Ensues.

This film contains examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Jasper loves to use alliterative, often animal-based insults like "scheming skunk," "whining weasel," and perhaps most creatively, "lint-headed limey" to refer to his valet, Mansfield. Wild Billy also gets off one or two.
  • Cain and Abel: Billy initially sees their relationship this way, Eli doesn't.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: The Teetotaler Eli gets badly snockered on one canteen's worth of "mountain spring water".
  • Church of Saint Genericus: Eli belongs to a ersatz Salvation Army-like group and dreams of heading his own church. Outside of his familiarity with The Bible, no clues are given as to what Judeo-Christian denomination he belongs to, and when he does start his own church at the end, we see no holy symbols of any kind inside.
  • Cool Train: The "Iron Donkey" steam engines both Eli and Billy race in the film, as befitting a Disney production to have some examples of cool trains. Both prop engines survive in Disneyland.
  • Easily Forgiven: Billy, by Eli.
  • Fictional Counterpart: An early draft of the script (see What Could Have Been) had the Eli analogue involved with the Salvation Army. In the final film, his organization is not named but retains a lot of trappings of the 19th century Salvation Army (band-like uniforms, singing hymns on street corners with brass and drum accompaniment, etc).
  • Hypocritical Humor: Jenny scolds the two kids for shooting a gun and takes it away. The moment they're gone, she can't resist taking another shot at their target... and almost hits Eli.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Denver says this about Rattlesnake being present.
  • The Jeeves: Jasper Bloodshy has a very long-suffering one.
  • Mayor Pain: Mayor Ragsdale.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Justified with Eli, who was raised in England by his mother after she left Old Man Bloodshy.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: The twin brothers-one seems to be channeling Yosemite Sam while the other is a religious pacifist apparently affiliated with the Salvation Army or a similar group. Jasper Bloodshy has elements of both his sons' personalities: Billy's amoral raucousness and Eli's sentimentality about family members he's never met.
  • Quicksand Sucks: One of Denver's attempts at dueling Rattlesnake ends with him sinking in a quicksand pit (while counting to 3 to start the duel, no less!) brought about by heavy rains. Don Knotts really did get swallowed up by quicksand on camera, and it took an hour to get him cleaned up after they pulled him out upon completion of the take.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Eli loves God with a passion and is willing to go through all kinds of danger for His sake. Eli's main interest in his inheritance is so that he can use it to help people through his religious group.
  • Slapstick: A lot of the humor is this.
  • Title Drop: A song that plays over the opening credits claims that the two brothers will be like "Hot Lead and Cold Feet when they meet."
  • Troubling Unchildhood Behavior: Played for laughs, as Eli's street-smart orphan sidekicks constantly worry about people taking advantage of him and at one point steal a gun so they can defend him against his brother and the mayor.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Jim Dale plays all three Bloodshys.