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The Iron Mistress (1952)

The life of nineteenth-century pioneer Jim Bowie is portrayed.



(screenplay), (novel) (as Paul I. Wellman)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Judalon de Bornay
Juan Moreno
Ursula de Varamendi
Philippe de Cabanal
Narcisse de Bornay
Black Jack Sturdevant (as Tony Caruso)
Nedrick Young ...
Henri Contrecourt (as Ned Young)
Rezin Bowie
Gen. Cuny
Dr. Cuny (as Donald Beddoe)
Harold Gordon ...
Andrew Marschalk
Judge Crain
Nick Dennis ...
Nez Coupe


Barely historical presentation of the life of Jim Bowie. Here he goes to New Orleans to sell lumber but falls in love with Judalon. To match his rivals he must become sophisticated and does so. By the time he sells the mill, starts a plantation and tries to wed Jedualon the woman has wed playboy Phillipe. Along the way to true wisdom he designs a special knife made from part of a meteorite. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


JIM BOWIE...a man with his name on a knife - and a woman with a weapon all her own!


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

12 March 1953 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Im Banne des Teufels  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 28, 1954 with Virginia Mayo reprising her film role. See more »


When the girl is hitting the pinata she is blindfolded, but you can see here clearly following the pinata swing as she hits it. See more »


Black Jack Sturdevant: You got the guts for a ten foot circle, wrists strapped together?
See more »


Referenced in The Red Balloon (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

Average and a little boring biopic about the mythical Jim Bowie , pre-The Alamo
11 December 2013 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

Western adventure with Jim Bowie (Alan Ladd) a man with his name on a knife and two women (Virginia Mayo , Phyllis Kirk) with a weapon all their own . This is a mini-biography of the life of Jim Bowie in which he faces off bloody duels . It starts In 1825, Jim Bowie travels to New Orleans to sell the lumber output from the sawmill he runs with his brothers . He soon meets the gorgeous as well as manipulating Judalon De Bornay (Virginia Mayo) and falls in love for her . Jim attempts to wed Jedualon , but the woman has wed playboy Phillipe (Alf Kjellin) . Jim's business interests lead to violent fights where a lot of people are killed and there takes place a struggle with local saloon owner and nasty Black Jack (Anthony Caruso) . Then , Bowie is rescued by an attractive Mexican girl (Phyllis Kirk) , the daughter of the Vice-Governor of San Antonio .

Barely historical presentation about the mythic character , Jim Bowie , who invented the famed frontier knife . This colorful as well as spotty picture contains action , thrills , soap opera , knife-fights , luxurious balls and results to be entertaining ; however , being also mediocre . Slightly interesting screenplay by James R. Webb , Western usual , being based on a novel by Paul Wellman . Passable acting by the main starring Alan Ladd , and gorgeous Virginia Mayo who subsequently reprised her film role in Lux Radio Theater broadcast , a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie. Support cast is frankly well , such as Joseph Calleia as Juan Moreno , Phyllis Kirk as Ursula De Varamendi , Alf Kjellin as Phillipe De Cabanal , Douglas Dick as Narcisse de Bornay and special mention to Anthony Caruso playing as crook Black Jack . Atmospheric and thrilling musical score by the classic composer Max Steiner . Colorful as well as evocative cinematography by John F. Seitz , filmed on location in New Orleans and surrounds .

The motion picture lavishly produced by Henry Blanke was regularly directed by Gordon Douglas . He was an expert on adventure genre as ¨Black arrow¨ , ¨Fortunes of Captain Blood¨ , both starred by Louis Hayward and Western , as he proved in the films starred by Clint Walker such as ¨Fort Dobbs¨, ¨Yellowstone Kelly¨ , ¨Gold of seven Saints¨ , Gregory Peck as ¨Only the valiant¨ , ¨Chuka¨ with Rod Taylor , ¨Rio Conchos¨ starred by Richard Boone , being considered his best Western , and about bandits legendary as ¨Doolins of Oklahoma¨ , ¨Great Missouri raid¨, among others .

The real events about James Bowie's life are the followings : Texas hero and knife-fighter whose name was made world famous by the type of broad-bladed knife he used and is said to have originated . Born in Georgia , he made money by selling black slaves before going Texas , where he settle in San Antonio , legend tells us he searched for and found the lost Spanish silver mine in the San Saba region . In 1830, he became a Mexican citizen married the daughter of the Vice-Governor of San Antonio and became a wealthy landowner . He lost his wife and children in a cholera epidemic . When the Texans rebelled against Spanish rule he joined the rebels and was made captain , engaging in several victories over Mexicans . With the rank of colonel he held joint command of The Alamo fortress with Colonel Travis until stricken down with fever , he died fighting , from his sickbed , with the rest of the garrison while defending the Alamo against an overwhelming Mexican army . Bowie made his reputation as a formidable knife-fighter in a number of duels , but it is not clear if he or his brother , actually designed the original Bowie Knife .

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