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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 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 will and 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 mayossheriff'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:
- Awesome McCoolname: Jasper Bloodshy, "Wild Billy" Bloodshy and Rattlesnake all qualify for this.
- 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".
- Different As Night and Day: 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.
- Ear Worm: "May the Best Man Win," the title-dropping song that plays over the opening credits.
- Easily Forgiven: Billy, by Eli.
- Fictional Counterpart: an early draft of the script (see What Could Have Been, below) 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).
- I Know You Know I Know: Denver says this about Rattlesnake being present.
- Purity Sue: Eli narrowly escape being one of these, mostly due to the fact that he is partially played for comedy, and the film doesn't shrink away from the difficulties his idealism causes him.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Jeeves: Jasper Bloodshy has a very long-suffering one.
- 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.
- What Could Have Been: originally written in the early seventies as a low-budget western vehicle for Audie Murphy and his friend, character actor Michael Dante. They would have played the Eli and Wild Billy analogues, respectively, in this version, which did not have an Uncanny Family Resemblance angle, and may not have had the pacifist and the hellion as relatives. This version fell through due to Murphy's untimely death in a plane crash, and the script was sold to Disney.