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A Southern Yankee (1948)

A hapless bellboy in a St. Louis hotel near the end of the Civil War is recruited by the Union secret service to impersonate a notorious Confederate spy.


Edward Sedgwick


Melvin Frank (story), Norman Panama (story) | 1 more credit »

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Credited cast:
Red Skelton ... Aubrey Filmore
Brian Donlevy ... Kurt Devlynn
Arlene Dahl ... Sallyann Weatharby
George Coulouris ... Maj. Jack Drumman aka The Grey Spider
Lloyd Gough ... Capt. Steve Lorford
John Ireland ... Capt. Jed Calbern
Minor Watson ... Gen. Watkins
Charles Dingle ... Col. Weatherby
Art Baker ... Col. Clifford M. Baker
Reed Hadley ... Fred Munsey
Arthur Space ... Mark Haskins
Joyce Compton ... Hortense Dobson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Byron Foulger ... Mr. Duncan (scenes deleted)
Edward Gargan ... Male Nurse (scenes deleted)
Bert Moorhouse ... Capt. Jeffreys (scenes deleted)


Aubrey Filmore (Red Skelton) is a bumbling bellboy in a Missouri town who pesters the Union officers there; he desperately wants to be a spy for the North in the American Civil War. When Filmore accidentally waylays an infamous Confederate spy known as "The Grey Spider" and is mistaken for him by the Rebels, the Union brass see it as an opportunity for real espionage - and though Filmore is a coward as well as a fool, his real motivation for derring-do is a sweet Southern girl named Sallyann, whom he will see again behind Southern lines. Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Comedy | History | War | Western


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 August 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Superspion See more »


Box Office


$1,482,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,981,000, 31 December 1948

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,547,000, 31 December 1948
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In the scene where Arlene Dahl and Red Skelton are standing at the bottom of the interior staircase of the Sothern home when a beautiful brunette woman descends the stairs all in black. Dahl introduces her to Skelton as her cousin Electra. This was a double joke because the reference was to the RKO movie " Mourning Becomes Electra" released the previous year of 1947. The flip side, or irony, was that though that story was set during and post War Between The States, the main character in O'Neill's "Electra", Lavinia Mannon, was a Northerner and the character, Electra, in this movie is a Sothern Belle. See more »


Mention of prisoner exchange is mentioned by the colonel. Prison exchanges were stopped by Grant in 1864, the first union commander who realized the road to victory lay through attrition. See more »


Aubrey Filmore: Let's talk about living.
See more »


References Our Hospitality (1923) See more »


Oh! Susanna
Composed by Stephen Foster (1848)
Instrumental version used as leitmotif under titles ad sung briefly by Skelton and Dahl.
See more »

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User Reviews

"Uncivil Warrior"
21 April 2006 | by aimless-46See all my reviews

This fun 1948 comedy by Edward Sedgwick is like a cross between "Uncivil Warriors" (the 1935 Three Stooges short with the stooges playing Capt. Dodge, Lt. Duck, and Lt. Hyde) and "Advance to the Rear" (a 1964 comedy starring Glenn Ford and Stella Stevens). It is not quite as zany as the Stooge classic but has more physical comedy than Ford's film, including stunts designed by Buster Keaton.

Red Skelton plays Aubrey Filmore, a bumbling hotel bellboy in 1865 St. Louis, who spends most of his working hours tracking down imaginary spies among the guests. Aubrey's bumbling pays off one afternoon when he accidentally knocks out a guest who turns out to be a legendary Confederate spy called the "grey spider". His good fortune continues when a southern belle, Sallyann Weatherby (Arlene Dahl) mistakes him for the spider. Wanting to exploit these events, the Union secret service gives him phony plans to pass along to the enemy and instructions to pass along to another union agent behind enemy lines. Predictably Aubrey gets the two packets of information mixed up and places the union agent and himself in jeopardy.

"A Southern Yankee" is quite funny if not especially noteworthy, the cast is solid and the production design of good quality.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

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