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The Desperadoes (1943)

Approved | | Action, Comedy, Romance | 25 May 1943 (USA)
A wanted outlaw arrives in town to rob a bank that has already been held up! His past and his friendship with the sheriff land them both in trouble.

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(screenplay), (original story)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Sheriff Steve Upton
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Countess Maletta
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Cheyenne Rogers
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Allison McLeod
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Uncle Willie McLeod
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Judge Cameron
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Nitro Rankin (as Guinn {Big Boy} Williams)
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Stanley Clanton
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Sundown
...
Jack Lester
...
Dan Walters
...
Cass
Edward Pawley ...
Blackie
...
Rollo
...
Lem
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Storyline

Popular mailcoach driver Uncle Willie is in fact in league with the town's crooked banker. They plan to have the bank robbed after emptying it, and when Willie's choice for this doesn't show in time, he gets some local boys to do it. When his man does turn up he decides to stick around, as he is pals with the sheriff and also takes a shine to Willie's daughter Allison. This gives the bad men several new problems. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Red-Blooded Action See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

25 May 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Desperados  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is the film on which Budd Boetticher (then an assistant director) met Randolph Scott and Harry Joe Brown. More than a decade later the trio would team up for the famous "Ranown" series of westerns, such as The Tall T (1957) and Ride Lonesome (1959). See more »

Goofs

The song, "Little Brown Jug", (heard at the dance), was written in 1869 while the 'book' at the start of the film indicates that the film is set in 1863. See more »

Quotes

Uncle Willie McLeod: [toasting] Here's to green pastures and no fences!
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits of the leading characters are shown as pages with photographs in a metal clasped book with the title THE DESPERADOES. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Holiday (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Gwine to Rune All Night (De Camptown Races)
(1850) (uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Played on piano in a saloon
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User Reviews

 
Not a "B" Western
8 August 2006 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

"The Desperadoes" (1943) is a genuine classic, not for its story (which is fairly routine), but for its technical production elements. This was a landmark western, the biggest ever at the time of its release and all the more unique because it was a Columbia production-a lightweight studio with a bottom feeding reputation. Only Fox's "Jesse James" (also starring Randolph Scott) from a few years earlier gave anywhere near this lavish a treatment to the genre. Although it would be eclipsed in a few years by "The Searchers" and "High Noon", "The Desperadoes" was a ground breaking effort and a historical treasure.

In 1863, the economy in the town of Red Valley, Utah is based on rounding up and selling wild horses to the Union Army. The script gets a little messed up here with references to the railroad (which was several years away in Utah's future) and Custer's Last Stand (Custer was busy fighting Stuart in Pennsylvania at the time) but these are not important plot elements.

Red Valley has an honest sheriff, Steve Upton (Scott), but the banker and several citizens are corrupt; robbing their own bank each time the government pays for a herd of horses. The town is visited by Cheyenne Rogers (Glenn Ford), a famous outlaw who is an old friend Steve's. He wants to go straight, especially after falling for the pretty livery stable owner Alison McLeod (Evelyn Keyes). Cheyenne's partner "Nitro" Rankin (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams) is mainly there for comic relief as are Uncle Willie McLeod (Edgar Buchanan) and the town judge (Raymond Walburn who models his character on Frank Morgan's "Wizard of Oz" crystal ball faker).

Taking no chances with their huge budget Columbia packed this thing with tons of action and every western movie element but Indians and covered wagons. There is the best wild horse stampede ever filmed, a spectacular barroom brawl, an explosive climax, romance, and three-strip Technicolor. All this stuff doesn't necessarily fit together but who would have cared back in 1943. Unity is a problem as it tries to be both a serious action western and a comedy.

The cinematography was probably the best ever at the time of its filming. The indoor scenes are solid but it is the naturalistic outdoor photography that is truly impressive; both the lyrical static shots and the moving camera filming of the action sequences.

Scott and Claire Trevor were top billed, but the studio clearly wanted to promote Ford, who would soon be their biggest star. And Director Charles Vidor utilized the film to showcase his new wife Keyes (whose portrayal of Scarlett's sister in "Gone With the Wind" had connected with audiences more than any small part in the history of films).

The Ford-Keyes dynamic is "The Desperadoes" most unique and important feature. Rather than go for the cliché "love triangle" with Scott and/or Trevor (which it first appears will happen), the entire romantic focus is on the two younger actors. This was probably the best role Keyes ever got and she makes the most of it. Playing a tomboyish but extremely sexy young woman who looks great in both leather pants and dresses, and who rides and fights like Kiera Knightley's character in "Pirates of the Caribbean". This was revolutionary at the time and coincided with the 1942 formation of the WAAC for WWII military service.

"The Desperadoes" is one film that has been well taken care of and the print looks like it is brand new. Unfortunately there are no special features on the DVD.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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