|Index||8 reviews in total|
Joel McCrea, Douglas Kennedy, and Zachary Scott are partners in the
Three Bell Ranch in Texas as the Civil War starts. When war does come
it splits the partners up. The ranch is raided by Victor Jory and his
cutthroats and the partners are wiped out. Kennedy opts for enlisting
in the Confederate Army. McCrea and Scott decide to go into gunrunning
to make enough money to re-stock the ranch. McCrea makes enough, but
Scott likes the profits and he wants to keep on gunrunning.
As you can see the three partners all have different agendas. In fact everyone in this movie is working on his own agenda. The female leads Alexis Smith and Dorothy Malone have a hankering for McCrea. Victor Jory rides for the Union the Confederates and for himself. Bob Steele who's a slimy sort that Scott recruits in the gunrunning business has his own plans.
Believe it or not it all jells into a very nice plot and is good entertainment. Joel McCrea was his usual stalwart hero as was Douglas Kennedy. Zachary Scott was no better than he had to be on any occasion.
It's a good western and I wish it was shown more often.
Joel McCrea, Zachary Scott and Douglas Kennedy are friends that get separated during the civil war. McCrea is going to marry Dorothy Malone, but he leaves her to find the outlaw that had destroyed his ranch.(Victor Jory). He ends up meeting Alexis Smith (great as always) who falls in love with him. Colorful and entertaining, directed by Ray Enright who was very good in this type of films.
Not as bad as one IMDb critic found it, nor as bad as the "Time Out"
review suggests. The opening shot was a bit amateurish, with the
usually excellent Victor Jory emerging from behind a flaming torch,
laughing manically and chucking it through a window. His character's
name, Cottrell, and behaviour brings to mind Quantrell and his raiders,
but Jory is mainly on the Union side, something not appreciated by one
Union officer when Jory and his henchmen swagger into a saloon. Alexis
Smith as the saloon girl Rouge did a lot of grimacing, and, rather more
effectively, Bob Steele did a lot of glowering,.
The ending was a bit contrived, and everything works out as one might have predicted, though I'm not sure that McCrea got the best girl.
Lot of different things going on in this enjoyable civil war type
western. The plot is set in motion in the opening frames when a
ruthless raider named Luke Contrell (I guess he's the union version of
William Quantrill) burns out the Three Bells ranch in Texas. The Three
Bells is run by 3 friends, Joel McCrea, Zachary Scott and Douglas
Kennedy (I hope you don't mind my convention of referring to the
characters by the actor's names, it's just easier and apart from
Contrell, the names don't mean much) who set of for Brownsville to get
even. Contrell carries out his raiding under the protection of the
union army, which prevents our hero, Joel McCrea, from doing much more
than beating him up and telling him to leave town.
Our three heros -- it's weird seeing Zachary Scott as a hero -- are now kind of shiftless and looking for what to do next. Kennedy decides to join the Confederation and fight in the open. This is kind of different, the movie is set during the Civil War and one of the hero's decides to join the confederation and doesn't feel the need to talk about protecting his way of life. The union army might protect Contrell, but they don't like him much, and the commander offers to buy McCrea a drink after he beats up Contrell -- but McCrea don't drink with Yankees. McCrea and Scott get mixed up in gun running and take to the trade, blockade running guns from Mexico to the confederates.
The romantic sub-plot is that a saloon singer played by Alexis Smith has set her cap for McCrea and McCrea's gal, Dorothy Malone, has followed Kennedy into fighting the good fight as a nurse (the film just never really gets into the nitty gritty of the politics of the civil war). I found the romantic business, usually something of a drag in the avg McCrea feature, to be pretty interesting and not quite so ham handed as is often done.
The production values are not bad, the acting is pretty good, the story interesting and a little different. If you love westerns, and I presume you do if you've read this far, you could do a lot worse that this movie. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Good old fashioned Western, the plot however is very similar to the Jimmy Cagney classic "The Roaring 20's" re-fashioned to a Western setting and with a sanitised ending, McCrea as the Cagney character survives and Scott as the Bogart character is killed after changing sides back to the law and Order camp. Worth watching as a good example of Hollywood in its pre message era when a Western was for entertainment. The production values were good with great Technicolour and a strong cast. McCrea was always good in his Westerns having played both comedy and drama in his earlier years and Zachary Scott was a very under-rated actor, good in any movie he was in.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"South of St. Louis" takes place during the American Civil War in Texas
near the Mexican border.
Three ranchers Kip Davis (Joel McCrea), Charlie Burns (Zachary Scott) and Lee Price (Douglas Kennedy) partner in a ranch called "The Three Bells). Each man wears a small bell attached to their spurs to signify their partnership. While away, the ranch is attacked and burned by a gang of raiders led by Luke Cottrell (Victor Jory). The ranchers vow to track down Cottrell. Kip leaves his girl Deb Miller (Dorothy Malone) behind to pursue the outlaws.
The boys become acquainted with saloon singer Rouge de Lisle (Alexis Smith) whom they discover is in the gun running business supplying arms to the Confederates from Mexico. Kip and Charlie decide to join her while Lee joins the Confederate army. Charlie along with his henchman Slim Hansen (Bob Steele) decide to keep at it while Kip wants to return to "Three Bells" and begin rebuilding however he learns that Deb will not be returning with him.
Anyway, fast forward to the end of the war and we find that Lee is now a Texas Ranger and Kip is drowning his sorrows in Mexico with Rouge at his side. Charlie and Slim meanwhile have kept the gun running profitable. Lee is assigned to clean up the gang but is alone in the task. Will Kip come to Lee's rescue? Will there be a final showdown? Of course there will.
Joel McCrea is well, Joel McCrea giving his usual even performance in the lead. He has a good fight scene with Jory along the way. You just know that the Zachary Scott character is going to turn bad at some point. Douglas Kennedy who usually played villains, gets to be on the right side of the law for a change. Alexis Smith is OK as the saloon singer/gun runner and Dorothy Malone is sweet as the girl he left behind.
Bob Steele after his "B" western starring roles ended moved on to mostly playing villains. He is a scheming knife throwing double crosser in this one. And watch for his scene stealing death scene.
Also in the cast for limited comedy relief is Alan Hale as Jake Evarts the saloon owner. Western fans will also spot veteran bad guy Harry Woods in a brief appearance as a recruiting sergeant.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We all know how warner Brothers liked to keep on remaking their films,after all there are 3 versions of The Maltese falcon in only 10 years.So when i was watching this film so many similarities with The Roaring Twenties became apparent.We have gun running instead of booze.We have very similar plot lines eg one of the band goes over to the law and his wife who had rejected Joel Macrea,goes to Macrea who is now on the skids and boozing in a saloon habituated by a past friend Alexis Smith to ask him to save her husband.Well substitute Lynn Lane,Cagney and George and you have some idea of what i mean.The comic sidekick also gets killed two thirds the way through as does MacHugh in Roaring Twenties.Now i admit the ending is changed but i suppose that Warners had to show some originality!
This movie is filled with every cliche you can think of, and absolutely none of them work. The plot is predictable and the characters are not interesting, but boring. The acting is pretty bad, even by Joel McCrea. Even western fans should stay away from this one.
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