An outlaw, Bascomb, and his sidekick Yancey join a Mormon wagon train to hide out after a failed bank robbery. Bascomb undergoes a reformation as a result of his interactions with a young girl who becomes attached to him.
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It's just after the civil war when the elderly outlaw Bascomb and his gang try to rob a bank. They run into a trap as officers are waiting in ambush. Bascomb and the cold blooded killer Yancey escape and join a Mormon wagon train heading for Utah. They learn there is gold hidden on the train and eventually Yancey finds it. The plan is to take the gold and flee but a nine year old girl has become attached to Bascomb and Bascomb is beginning to change his mind.Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
It took Bascomb forty miles to reach the cavalry. They return from the fort to the Indian attack in under ten minutes. See more »
[after finding Emmy alone outside of camp]
Go away, Zeke. Don't you dare touch me.
How do you know it's Zeke, honey? Why, you ain't even looked.
I don't want to look. I don't want to ever see you. I just want to die.
That ain't no nice way to talk after all the trouble I had finding you. What made you skip out?
[He leans down to touch her]
[Emmy turns with a shotgun]
Well, I guess, ain't no use in asking for mercy once a woman's got her mind made up. I did think you had more...
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Director S. Syvan Simon's 1946 film "Bad Bascomb" is truly amazing. As a western it is awful, almost as bad as the cheapest of the Republic features. Yet for all but the most cynical viewers the film is a real treat simply for the wonderful scenes between nine-year old Margaret O'Brien and 60 year-old Wallace Beery (and nicely complemented by Marjorie Main in a supporting role). These are so well written that they seem to have come from a different writer than the rest of the film. And fortunately their scenes together make up a sizable portion of the total.
O'Brien was simply the cutest child actor in cinema history. And not only did she instinctively know how to act but she worked hard to master accents for her roles and she took direction very well. In "Bad Bascomb" Simon had her turn up the cuteness meter even higher than when she played Lady Jessica opposite Robert Young and Charles Laughton in "The Canterville Ghost". He knew exactly what he was doing because Beery's gruff and blustery performance balances it out quite nicely. Their scenes mostly involve her setting him up to deliver a series of absolutely priceless lines.
The story (which is almost irrelevant) begins with Beery's title character being thwarted when his gang attempts a bank robbery. Bascomb and his sidekick Bart Yancy (J. Carol Nash) escape and attempt to leave the area with a Mormon wagon train heading for Utah. They discover gold hidden on the train and Yancy enlists a band of Indians to attack the wagons. This results in another of those silly ride-around-the-circled-wagons Hollywood Indian attacks and some additional action as Beery rides to a nearby fort so the cavalry can come and save the day.
Like "Angel and The Badman" (made just a year later), the outlaw Beery is gradually won over by the loving girl although in this case it taps into fatherly rather than romantic love.
The day-to-day journey of the wagon train is done very well but the larger scale action sequences are rather lame. Beery has an "obvious" double for the horse riding scenes and almost everything that involves physical movement. Nash's character is a bit discordant, as Yancy has a lot of nice guy moments that simply don't fit with what is supposed to be his true nature. And there is a "Shane" ending that probably should have been reworked. I suspect that the producers were trying to target two very different audiences with this film and ended up hurting its basic unity.
But ultimately these defects don't really matter because of the slick performances of O'Brien, Beery, and Main. It's sentimental and contrived but it works.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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