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If I had been 10 in the 1940's, this would have been one of my favorites. This movie had everything a boy could ask for: fistfights, gun battles, comic relief, stagecoach wrecks, minimal romance, a clever and satisfying ending and Dennis Morgan singing. O.K., I could have done without the last one but what boy wouldn't like that combination? The movie doesn't make any great dramatic statements and I'm sure that it ignores history with its portrayal of the Younger brothers but how many movies are historically accurate? All I know is that with Howard Da Silva as the corrupt sheriff, Victory Jory as the smooth villainous carpetbagger and Walter Catlett as the bumbling treasurer how can one lose? The one odd note is the casting of Arthur Kennedy as the romantic lead. I'm just used to seeing him as the grizzled cop, gunslinger or bum. Fun movie.
Don't know exactly why but this is one of my favorite all time westerns. Remember seeing it on TV many years ago but I don't think it has been on TV in a long, long time. Turner Classic Movies has the film in it's vault. Story concerns the Younger brothers returning from the civil war to their small Missouri town only to find out the carpetbaggers have taken over and are running out all the peaceable, old folks, taking over their farms and property with delinquent tax deeds. The people cannot pay their tax bills because confederate money is considered worthless. Victor Jory, one of the best villains ever in the movies, plays a ruthless carpetbagger who shows no signs of pity on the poor, hapless farmers. Throw in the evil, sinister, looking Howard DaSilva as a crooked sheriff and you've got a mean mix of villains. The Younger brothers fight back after the murder of their father by Jory and his cutthroats.....they decide to take justice into their own hands and start robbing banks...in turn they give the loot back to the farmers and downtrodden to pay off their tax bills. Sort of like a Robin Hood of the west. A very young Jane Wyman as a love interest of Arthur Kennedy, one of the Younger brothers. Check out the hapless, bumbling Walter Catlett as a goofy middle man transporting Jory's money to a bank only to have the Younger brothers take it away from him. In the end the Younger brothers are all wounded from gunfights and lay in hospital beds while a movement is started by the Missouri downtrodden to get them pardons from the governor. Pretty good western for it's time.....only problem is the film is fairly short...only about an hour and fifteen minutes long....could have been a little longer for my tastes.
Sanitized telling of the Younger brothers tale with poor casting
choices in the leads.
Dennis Morgan was an agreeable entertainer and if his role of Cole Younger had been a singing cowboy he would have been fine. However the Youngers were a tough band of outlaws and nothing in Dennis's demeanor indicates anything close to that. The same goes for Wayne Morris cast as brother Bob. He was a fine light comic player and also very believable in war pictures since he was a real life flying ace but all wrong in an 1860's Western setting. The only one of the actors who is remotely believable is Arthur Kennedy as Jim Younger and even he seems a bit callow.
Along for the ride and giving a truly atrocious performance is Alan Baxter as Jesse James. He could not possibly be less animated and his line readings have all the expression of someone reading from the phone book.
As the love interest for Arthur's character there is a very blonde Jane Wyman early in her career. She's pretty and tart but also seems somewhat out of place. Really the only actor that seems entirely at home is Victor Jory in his usual villainous mode. He's squirrelly and slick but at least seems comfortable in his part.
Not a dreadful movie, though hardly the place to look for the true facts of the lives of the Youngers, but really just another programmer churned out to fill the bottom of a double bill using performers on their way up whether they are suitable or not.
Ray Enright was a good director for westerns , they all have a special quality. Enright went back to the same theme again (Jesse James and the Youngers) in 1950 with "Kansas Raiders". "Bad Men" is an entertaining film with a trio of excellent actors: Dennis Morgan, Wayne Morris and Arthur Kennedy. It also has Jane Wyman. The story is about the Younger brothers and how after the war their land was taken away, and they became outlaws, Robin Hood style. They eventually join up with Jesse James. This film does not seem to have been made such long ago as 1941, it looks surprisingly modern.
Someone must have been looking at the success that 20th Century Fox and
Darryl F. Zanuck were enjoying with the release of Jesse James two
years earlier with Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda. The reasoning must
have gone with Jack Warner that we would have even more success with
those other Missouri bad men, the Younger Brothers. There are three of
them and only two of the James boys.
Warner Brothers did not give Bad Men Of Missouri the A picture treatment the way Zanuck did with Jesse James. This was definitely a B film, but it did have its assets, chief of which are three of Warner Brothers younger contract players, Dennis Morgan, Arthur Kennedy, and Wayne Morris playing the Youngers. They do a fine job in the leads and like the James brothers they are portrayed as the Robin Hoods of post Civil War Missouri.
In Jesse James, the brothers take to the outlaw ways because the railroad is trying to grab land and their agents kill the James brothers mother, Jane Darwell, and burn down the family farm. In this film it's the Younger Brothers father played by Russell Simpson who is killed when land grabbers are trying to steal the Younger property.
After that the film follows pretty much the plot of Jesse James. But being that the real story of the Younger Brothers is not as known as Jesse and Frank James, a great deal more liberty is taken with the plot.
Faye Emerson and Jane Wyman are the girl friends of two of the Youngers. The villains are land agent Victor Jory and his chief henchman Howard DaSilva. Walter Catlett as a very good part he makes the most of as Jory's bumbling bookkeeper. Alan Baxter plays Jesse James and he's most definitely supporting the brothers.
Bad Men Of Missouri follows the typical Hollywood pattern of taking real characters of the west and weaving whole new plots around their lives. Still it moves at a very fast clip which for B western fans should be fun. After all you don't want any riding and shooting to be hampered by too much dialog.
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