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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Belle Starr (1941)

Immediately following the end of the Civil War, a young Southern belle (Gene Tierney) joins forces with an ex-Confederate soldier (Randolph Scott) in waging a guerilla war against all Yankees and Yankee sympathizers. Historically inaccurate in almost every way regarding the real Belle Starr, a notorious thrice married outlaw killed in her 40s, it's one of those films in which we're supposed to sympathize with Southerners who refuse to accept the end of the Civil War and continue fighting against the North. But it's hard to cheer when Scott's white vigilantes chase a family of black "carpetbaggers" out of Missouri or laugh when Scott calls Louise Beavers (as Tierney's mammy) "an Ethiopian elephant". To the film's credit, it does show Tierney's disillusionment with Scott as he becomes more of an ordinary criminal killing and robbing as opposed to a man standing up for his ideals. But anyway you look at it, it leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. Shot in Technicolor by Ernest Palmer and Ray Rennahan with one of Alfred Newman's weakest scores (one theme sounds like Frosty The Snowman. Directed by Irving Cummings (DOWN ARGENTINE WAY). With Dana Andrews, Shepperd Strudwick, Chill Wills and Elizabeth Patterson.

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