Crosby plays a Philadelpia Quaker engaged to a Southern belle. He becomes a social outcast when he refuses to fight a duel. Fields then hires him to perform on his riverboat, promoting him ...
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Rightly suspected of illicit relations with the Masked Bandit, Flower Belle Lee is run out of Little Bend. On the train she meets con man Cuthbert J. Twillie and pretends to marry him for "... See full summary »
Crosby plays a Philadelpia Quaker engaged to a Southern belle. He becomes a social outcast when he refuses to fight a duel. Fields then hires him to perform on his riverboat, promoting him as "Colonel Steel...the notorious Colonel Steel...the singing killer." The plot then follows a predictable course, but there are plenty of scenes featuring W.C. Fields.Written by
I loved this film when I saw it on TV as a child, and remember tape recording the sound track and listening to it over and over again. Crosby's voice is resonant and powerful, while still retaining the intimate crooner aspect that made him famous.
I love W. C. Fields, who does some of his best bits ("Women are like elephants. I like to look at them, but I wouldn't want to own one"), and isn't as boozy as he later became. Everything works here, but the underlying racism is disturbing. There is a sort of Steppin' Fetchit character who is slow and drawly, and the Cabin Kids are referred to as pickaninnies. Maybe this is why I only saw it once in about 1967, and never saw it again on TV.
I did just snag a DVD on EBay, but from the look of the primitive cover, and no label at all on the disc, I think it's bootlegged. It's watchable, but not really a good copy. I think there was a commercial disc many years ago, but it's out of print. I hope Turner Classics shows it, as in the past they've shown films with racist content in context, with commentary by a black sociologist. These references may be cringe-inducing, but they are also extremely revealing of a social climate that went uncriticized.
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