Bob Holliday (Broderick Crawford), owner of the Bella Union saloon in Deadwood, sends his younger brother, Jim Holliday (Robert Stack), to St. Louis, Missouri to escort back Anne Grayson (Ann Rutherford), Bob's childhood sweetheart. On the riverboat journey back to Deadwood, Jim and Anne fall in love and are married by the riverboat captain. Whe Bob learns of this he is outraged and goes on a drunken binge and is beat up by the ruthless Jack McCall (Lon Chaney, Jr.) and is saved by a teamster called and known only as Jane (Frances Farmer). She loves Bob and has thought she and Bob would get married. Bitter Bob joins McCall's renegades who, disguised as Indians, rob the stagecoach gold shipments , aided by information supplied by Ransome (Bradley Page), the local agent for the stagecoach line. To end the lawlessness, leading citizens of the town decide to hire a town marshal. When Wild Bill Hickok, turns down the job, Bob suggests that the unqualified Jim be given the job. Bob thinks ...Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The character played by Frances Farmer, as seen on the film, is just Jane, Nowhere in this film is she called Calamity Jane and nowhere is there a reference to Calamity Jane...and nowhere in this film is the word 'calamity' uttered. Albeit, the film has one calamity after another. The keyword...calamity-jane-type-character... is applicable. See more »
Except most of them were not stars yet. Lively but ordinary western from Universal which, in true Hollywood "respect" of history, throws a variety of famous historical names into the pot with mixed results. The film is perhaps most noteworthy for the cast of familiar film veterans.
The main story has two brothers (Robert Stack and Broderick Crawford) have a fall out over a girl (Ann Rutherford), Crawford turning bad and falling in with some outlaws, lead by Jack McCall (Lon Chaney Jr.). Custer's name is thrown into the mix, as well as that of Wild Bill Hickok, played by Richard Dix who is dressed to look like the lawman but has disappointingly little to do. The sudden recreation of the lawman's famous death is a surprisingly throwaway moment in the film.
Oh, there is also a gun slinging tom girl in buckskins just called "Jane" (played by a beautiful Frances Farmer in one of her final roles). Nobody calls her "Calamity" but the assumption is that's it's her anyway. Hugh Herbert and Andy Devine are also present for the usual comedy relief. The rest of the film, though, is hardly to be taken seriously.
The film moves quickly enough but what plot there is is trivial and uninvolving, not helped by the fact that it's difficult to take Stack seriously in the film's second half when he becomes the new law of Deadwood. Stanley Cortez photographed it all nicely, and you can recognize the same Universal stock music taken from Destry Rides Again, filmed two years before.
A minor quibble: watching Crawford and Chaney share a few scenes together, I was disappointed they didn't get drunk and start to break up the furniture. Maybe they saved that for when the cameras stopped rolling.
Strictly for western buffs,
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