Only four months after its last appearance there, "The Bad Man", Porter Emerson Browne's famous comedy, is back on the Copley stage with Alan Mowbray again swaggering about and smoking innumerable cigarettes in the character of Pancho Lopez, the swash-buckling, villainous and altogether charming bandit hero.
Matters were in a bad way on Gilbert Jones' ranch one hot summer day with the mortgage due at 8 o'clock, a fretful uncle making a nuisance of himself, Gilbert's old sweetheart and her unpleasant husband complicating matters, and everybody fighting for possession of the ranch and the oil that would make its owner rich. Into this atmosphere charged with hate and what not besides comes Pancho Lopez to show how one can set the world aright with a sense of humor, a Colt 45, and a Machiavellian philosophy.
"Een wan leetle hour, I mek you 'appy," he promises his old friend,--to attempt to reproduce Alan Mowbray's quaint dialect with its compound of American, a plausible Spanish accent, and the twang of Oxford English. There is the mortgage. Pancho robs a bank and pays it. One or two individuals insist in getting in the way. Pancho's confrere, Pedre, points firearms at them. There is the offensive and superfluous husband. Pancho shoots him personally. "There! What you say, my frien'?" Are you not 'appy?"
Alan Mowbray in the role made famous by Holbrook Blinn is no less effective, one suspects, than his more famous predecessor. The old uncle is usually amusing but not always convincing in the hands of C. Wordley Hulse. And Morris Carnovsky, as Morgan Pell, the unfortunate husband, is required by the author to confound all plausibility by announcing to his wife that dogs who do not know whom they belong to should be beaton, and wives as well.
Which brings us back to Pancho, and after all, nobody else matters in this play. Alan Mowbray is all that the heart could desire, so "The Bad Man" is a success.