EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|THE IRON MISTRESS (director: Gordan Douglas; screenwriters: James R. Webb/from a story by Paul Wellman; cinematographer: John Seitz; editor: Alan Crossland; music: Max Steiner; cast: Alan Ladd (Jim Bowie), Virginia Mayo (Judalon de Bornay), Joseph Calleia (Juan Moreno), Phyllis Kirk (Ursula de Veramendi), Alf Kjellin (Philippe de Cabanal), Douglas Dick (Narcisse de Bornay), Tony Caruso ("Bloody Jack" Sturdevant), George Voskovec (James Audubon), Ned Young (Henri Contrecourt), Sarah Selby (Mrs. Bowie), Richard Carlyle (Rezin Bowie), Dick Paxton (John Bowie), David Wolfe (James Black); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Henry Blanke; Warner Bros.; 1952)|
biopic on Jim Bowie."
by Dennis Schwartz
leaden biopic on Jim Bowie (Alan Ladd), the rogue
adventurer inventor of the double-edged knife that
bears his name. Gordan Douglas ("Saps at
Sea"/"Them!"/"Kiss Tomorrow Goodby") manages a few
good action scenes in a run-of-the-mill western about
the iconic American frontiersman, who only achieved
that status by
fighting in the Texas revolution and dying in the
Alamo. It's based on a story by Paul
Wellman and is written by James R. Webb. The
pic might be based on the actual life of Jim Bowie but
is questionable as far its accuracy. Some historians
even note that it was one of Jim's brothers who
designed the famous knife and not him.
Selby) allows her son Jim Bowie, after he wins
a competition with his other two brothers, in 1825, to
leave Bayou Sara, Louisiana, and go to New
Orleans to sell the lumber from their family sawmill.
As soon as Jim arrives in New Orleans he meets French painter James
Audubon (George Voskovec), who pissed-off the
wealthy de Bornay family by running off to the woods
to paint birds instead of completing his portrait of
Judalon de Bornay (Virginia Mayo). Her brother Narcisse (Douglas
Jim to a duel for having the audacity to speak up for
the artist. Jim somehow is able to use his wit to call
off the duel, and soon becomes friends with Narcisse
and pursues his beautiful but spoiled sister Judalon.
She turns down his marriage proposal, not prepared to
marry someone not from the upper-class of
Henri Contrecourt (Ned
suitor of Judalon, accuses Jim of insulting her and challenges him to a
duel. When Narcisse intervenes, he's killed when
confronting Contrecourt. Jim, in the film's best
action scene, faces Contrecourt, an excellent
swordsman, with Jim armed only with his knife and his
opponent with a sword, as they fight in a darkened
chamber. Surprisingly Jim kills Contrecourt.
Afterwards Jim sells the family lumber mill for a
healthy profit and talks his family into buying bayou
land to raise cotton, which leads to great wealth.
Then Jim must try to stave off rival Natchez cotton grower
Juan Moreno (Joseph Calleia) and his attempt to crush
his business. Jim buys a racehorse and beats Moreno's
horse in a race, and collects on the bets from Moreno
supporters. But Jim expects trouble from Moreno and
hires the blacksmith
named Black (David Wolfe) to make him the special
durable knife he designed.
Meanwhile Judalon has
de Cabanal (Alf Kjellin), but wants a divorce.
Moreno and his cronies appear and start shooting at
Jim and his supporters, as Jim knifes him to death.
This upsets Judalon because Moreno promised to secure
a bill of
divorcement for her. Judalon then talks Jim into getting her husband
released from jail over a gambling death with Bloody Jack" Sturdevant (Tony
Caruso), and in
return promises to go with him to Texas. Then Jim
injures Bloody Jack in a knife duel, but the
reneges on her promise and remains with her husband.
En route to Texas, Bloody Jack's men jump Jim and leave him injured. The Spanish daughter of the Texas vice governor, Ursula de Veramendi (Phyllis Kirk), finds Jim and nurses him back to health. Jim then returns to Louisiana to sell his lands and observes how Phillippe and Bloody Jack accidentally kill each other, and discovers he no longer lusts after Judalon when she expresses joy over her hubby's death. Returning to San Antonio, Jim marries Ursula and the rest is history.
REVIEWED ON 6/8/2013 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ