This western starring Beery and Taylor as rivals is one cackling western. It involves the kidnapping and reselling of free slaves. Set in 1812 in the North and a town of abolitionists, the ... See full summary »
This western starring Beery and Taylor as rivals is one cackling western. It involves the kidnapping and reselling of free slaves. Set in 1812 in the North and a town of abolitionists, the crimes needs to be solved. Beery has a need to solve the crimes because it implicates. Taylor, a sympathetic Southerner has his reasons too. Together they bicker, fight and join forces to save the slaves and bring justice to the criminals. Written by
In casting Robert Taylor in Stand Up And Fight, MGM was trying to broaden his appeal. His first few films established him as a handsome, but callow youth. Camille was a typical part for him. In doing this film, A Yank at Oxford, and Killer McCoy, MGM was trying to create a more masculine image for its heart throb.
Taylor plays the impoverished heir of a plantation in Maryland who is forced to sell his assets which of course in that society included black slaves. He's forced to go to work for a living and he gets a job with the new Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
The B&O's main competition is a stage and freight line which does a side business in capturing runaway slaves and returning them to their masters. The guys doing this are Charles Bickford and Barton MacLane with a wink and nod from manager Wallace Beery.
It's quite a culture shock for Taylor. He's grown up believing that blacks might be human, but of an inferior brand. The business that Bickford and MacLane are in disgusts him.
Taylor and Beery got good notices for this film. Starting out as antagonists both in business and generationally, they gain a grudging respect for the other.
The depiction of blacks as menials is the reason Stand Up And Fight is not broadcast too often. You run into a peculiar conundrum in dealing with movies about slavery. Because of the position they're in blacks have to act as subservient simply to survive and that in itself becomes offensive.
Roots changed all of that, but by that time Robert Taylor and Wallace Beery were gone as was director Woody Van Dyke. Stand Up And Fight surely isn't Roots by any means, but considering the era it was probably groundbreaking for its day, as was Paramount's Souls at Sea a few years earlier. Not many films dealt with slavery at all.
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