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It's just after the civil war when the elderly outlaw Bascomb and his gang try to rob a bank. They run into a trap as officers are waiting in ambush. Bascomb and the cold blooded killer Yancy escape and join a Mormon wagon train heading for Utah. They learn there is gold hidden on the train and eventually Yancy finds it. The plan is to take the gold and flee but a nine year old girl has become attached to Bascomb and Bascomb is beginning to change his mind. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
By all accounts, Wallace Beery was a coarse and miserable A-hole off camera. It's no surprise the man lacked refinement, just look at him, but I hope he wasn't quite the jerk biographers have painted him since his death in 1949. I've always enjoyed watching Wallace Beery movies, if his personality was something less than desirable in real life you'd never know it from many of his films, where the man is just simply...lovable. And if it was only that way on screen, then that's all that really matters I guess. Beery played a persona that made him a good living, and he always delivered the goods once the cameras rolled.
In Bad Bascomb, Beery is hilarious. He spits as many mouthfuls of funny dialogue as he spits his food. He also shows himself to have been a far better actor than he's remembered for as he emotes menace, sweetness, redemption and morosity with his craggy mug as good as any actor of his day. I defy anyone to dislike Beery in this film.
The movie itself is at times unbalanced...moves between a children's film and a more conventional western, with all its back shooting nastiness, a little unseamlessly. But it was all shot outdoors on location and as Wagon Train movies go, this one has a fairly authentic look to it.
Maybe not a great western, but it's great fun to watch Beery and Margaret O'Brien play off each other. The kind of sweetness reminiscent of Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood in Miracle in the 34th Street. One of Beery's must see roles. Well worth your time if you come across it on TCM.
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