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A Southern Yankee (1948)

Not Rated | | Comedy, History, War | 5 August 1948 (USA)
A hapless bellboy in a St. Louis hotel near the end of the Civil War is recruited by the Union secret service to impersonate a notorious Confederate spy.



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Credited cast:
Capt. Steve Lorford
Fred Munsey
Mark Haskins
Hortense Dobson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mr. Duncan (scenes deleted)
Male Nurse (scenes deleted)
Capt. Jeffreys (scenes deleted)


Aubrey Filmore (Red Skelton) is a bumbling bellboy in a Missouri town who pesters the Union officers there; he desperately wants to be a spy for the North in the American Civil War. When Filmore accidentally waylays an infamous Confederate spy known as "The Grey Spider" and is mistaken for him by the Rebels, the Union brass see it as an opportunity for real espionage - and though Filmore is a coward as well as a fool, his real motivation for derring-do is a sweet Southern girl named Sallyann, whom he will see again behind Southern lines. Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What's Rhett Butler Got That Red Skelton Ain't Got? See more »


Comedy | History | War | Western


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 August 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Superspion  »


Box Office


$1,482,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,981,000, 31 December 1948

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,547,000, 31 December 1948
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The scene where Civil War spy Lloyd Gough listens to battle plans from the second floor flu was reused by John Ford in "The Horse Soldiers,' when Constance Towers and Althea Gibson listen to John Wayne and his officers plotting strategy until they're caught by William Holden. Brian Donlevy catches Gough spying in this film. See more »


Mention of prisoner exchange is mentioned by the colonel. Prison exchanges were stopped by Grant in 1864, the first union commander who realized the road to victory lay through attrition. See more »


Gen. Watkins: Major, after this, they'll probably make you a Colonel.
Aubrey Filmore: Oh, well... I'd rather that they made me a civilian!
See more »


References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »


Attributed to Daniel Decatur Emmett in 1850s minstrel shows
Instrumental version heard on soundtrack under battle.
See more »

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User Reviews

29 July 2016 | by See all my reviews

Skelton fans should get a laugh-fest out of this nifty slice of slapstick. Seems Red's a Union-loving bellboy in the Civil War South. Through typical Skelton mishaps, he's mistaken for the South's best spy, The Grey Spider. Only instead of spying for the South, he's persuaded to do same for the Yankees. Except as a spy, he keeps switching uniforms from one side to the other. Naturally, this leads to a rollicking series of mishaps, with Red scoring more mugs and pratfalls per minute than a road racer's RPM's. But that's got nothing on the uniform changes that are faster than a hooker in a rain storm. My guess is the scripters must have gone home in a permanent daze. But don't feel bad for our hero. He does get to romance the South's most delectable magnolia, Arlene Dahl, and right away I'm wondering where I can join up on her side.

All in all, it's a fine vehicle for Red's brand of comedy. Just one thing—I always thought the War was fought on the East Coast. But now I know it was really fought inside greater LA's scrublands. Thanks MGM for setting the history books straight.

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