STARR (director: Irving
Cummings; screenwriters: Lamar Trotti/story by Cameron Rogers and Niven
Busch; cinematographers: Ernest Palmer/Ray Rennahan;
editor: Robert L.
Simpson; music: Alfred Newman; cast: Gene Tierney (Belle Starr),
Randolph Scott (Sam Starr), Dana Andrews (Major Thomas
Crail), Shepperd Strudwick (Ed Shirley), Elizabeth
Patterson (Sarah), Chill Wills (Blue Duck), Louise
Beavers (Mammy Lou), Olin Howland (Jasper), Joe Sawyer
(John Cole), Joe Downing (Jim Cole), Charles Middleton
(Carpetbagger), George Reed (Old Jake, ex-slave),
Matthew "Stymie" Beard (Young Jake), Clarence Muse
(Bootblack), Elena Verdugo (Young Girl);
Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Kenneth Macgowan;
20th Century Fox; 1941)
"The questionable narrative is not all that's wrong with this production, as a miscast Gene Tierney is too delicate an actress to pass for a gunslinger."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Tawdry reconstruction period Western directed by the numbers and in a stilted way by Irving Cummings ("Little Miss Broadway"/"Down Argentine Way"/"Louisiana Purchase"). Lamar Trotti's weak screenplay includes too many offensive moments of depicting African American as stereotypes and revering the racist South for fighting the Civil War and after the war fighting the carpetbagger invasion of the South by the North to defend its honor and belief in its lost cause. It's based on the story by Cameron Rogers and Niven Busch that chronicles how an aristocratic southern lady from Missouri joined a riffraff gang of southerner guerrillas to become a notorious outlaw. But the questionable narrative is not all that's wrong with this production, as a miscast Gene Tierney is too delicate an actress to pass for a gunslinger.
Captain Ed Shirley (Shepperd Strudwick) returns from
the Civil War to his Missouri plantation run during
the war by his headstrong sister Belle Shirley (Gene
Tierney). Smug Union major Thomas Crail (Dana
Andrews), Belle's sweetheart before the war, now
receives the cold shoulder from her. Crail is back in
Missouri to stop the Confederate guerrillas led by Sam
Starr (Randolph Scott),
a captain in the Confederacy. When Crail arrests the
reckless Sam Starr in Belle's mansion and then burns
down her landmark home and arrests her brother for
abetting the escape of Starr, an irate Belle joins
Sam's southern gang hiding in the hills and
organizes a jail break. Once free, Sam marries Belle
and they become famous for their Missouri raids.
When the criminal Cole brothers (Joe Sawyer & Joe Downing) join the gang, Belle has second thoughts.
Louise Beavers plays her
usual Mammy role and Chill Wills his usual loyal
sidekick role, this time to Scott. It tries to be a
low-rent GWTW, but only manages to be low-rent hokum.
REVIEWED ON 4/14/2012 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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