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The setting is the Civil War and its aftermath. Belle's family has lost their land to Yankees. She marries Confederate guerilla leader Sam Starr and they continue activities against exploiters until she is shot riding to alert Sam to a trap. Highly romanticized and little connection with history. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Ed Shirley is shot from his horse, he is shown from a distance, but you can still see that instead of being knocked off his horse, he dismounts by lifting his leg up and over the saddle in front of him and then falling to the ground. See more »
Like a history lesson taught to you by a teacher with a severe head injury and who is on Quaaludes!
If you read about the real life Belle Starr, you'll soon notice that her life has almost nothing to do with the film "Belle Starr"....nothing! Heck, when the film began, they couldn't even get the state where she lived correct! And, she hardly was the sort that should have been portrayed by the beautiful Gene Tierney! So, when you watch the movie you need to remember that it is complete fiction from start to finish.
Another thing about the film that is pure fiction is the film's depiction of the Reconstruction era. Instead of showing what life was really like in the post-war South, it shows images that seem straight out of the film "Birth of a Nation"--with horrible stereotypes of blacks running amok, dancing in the streets and being 'uppity'. The only horrible stereotype missing is the watermelon! Again, this film is definitely NOT a history lesson but promotes a racist view of this time. And, sadly, at the time the film was made, it was the popular view of this period. I really wish that when Turner Classic Movies showed the film that it would have been introduced by Robert Osbourne with a disclaimer about all this! The real life Belle Starr was NOT a woman crusading against the evil Yankee and political injustice. No, she was a crook and had a long history of marrying crooks who ended up getting themselves shot. And, not surprisingly, eventually she was shot at age 41. She wasn't pretty and she was just plain vicious.
Now if I completely turn off the parts of my brain that balk at these historical inaccuracies (which is tough, as I am retired history teacher), what are the film's merits? Well, the story is occasionally interesting and the production values are very good--with nice color film stock and music. But the film also is full of ridiculous acting by Tierney--who seems more shrill and silly than anything else. As for her co-stars, Dana Andrews and Randolph Scott, they are both fine actors who are given little to do other than to stand back and watch Belle over-act badly. The only one who came off well was Belle's brother (Shepperd Strudwick)--he had some good lines and was able to put across his character well. Overall, a silly and inconsequential film. You can easily do better.
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