Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Oaters - Angel and the Badman (1947)

"Well, alright, but if I'm gonna be holy, I've gotta get some fun out of it."

Quirt Evans is a man with a nasty reputation and a bad attitude. He's so attatched to his gunslinging way of life that even with a bullet in him and nearly comatose he will not settle down until his gun is placed in his hand. So what happens when this wildman is nursed back to health by a Quaker family whose daughter is accurately described in the title as an angel?

Of course, the central question of this movie is a very basic and perhaps eternal one: Can a man change? Must he always be who he once was, or can he find happiness in a new way of life. However, there is also another very interesting query that is raised mostly in the interactions between the Quakers and the atheist doctor who regularly comes to their house to treat the injured gunman - Who is more in the right: the rationalist who sees a man for who he is or the person of faith who sees a man for who he could be?

Fortunately, however, writer and director James Edward Grant doesn't forget, amongst all the deep thinking, to also give us plenty of gunfights, cattle rustling, barroom brawls and womainzing. Even more than that, he doesn't forget to bring the humor to what could otherwise have been a very dusty tale.

As played by John Wayne, Quirt Evans actually seems to be more of a lost man than a true bad man. Raised by a cattle rancher who "sometimes swung his rope too wide", it really seems that Evans has simply fallen in with a lawless crowd where he quickly gained a reputation for ruthlessness. Once taken in and nursed back to health by the Worth family, however, his easy wit and quiet demeanor, and the way that he quickly integrates with his newfound family, makes it easy to forget Quirt's lawless past. Unfortunately for him, however, there are others who are not so forgetful. Or forgiving.

Special mention also absolutely has to be made of Gail Russell, who, as Wayne's love interest and Worth family duaghter Penelope, the titular "angel" of the film, brings a quiet intensity to each of her scenes. It is often said of a particularly lovely actress that "the camera loves her", and in this case it's a love that is shared not only by Quirt but by the entire audience.

This was the first movie on which John Wayne was given a producer credit, and it's easy to see that he truly had his heart in it.

Let's have a look, shall we?

And now, the Skinny:
Title: Angel and the Badman
Release Date: 1947
Running Time: 100min
Black and White
Starring: John Wayne, Gail Russell
Directed by: James Edward Grant
Produced by: John Wayne
Distributed by: Republic Pictures Corporation

Angel and the Badman is available to download or watch for free here. A colorized version is also available on Youtube.
The film is also available on DVD from Amazon: Angel and the Badman.

Netflix also has the DVD available to rent: Angel and the Badman.

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


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