Monday, January 10, 2011

George Sherman - Calamity Jane and Sam Bass (1949)

Yvonne De Carlo is the notorious cowgirl gunslinger, Calamity Jane, in this visually impressive Technicolor western from the golden age of cowgirl movies. Calamity falls for Sam Bass, but he's already in love with this other girl, see. But when Sam gets put in jail on a bum rap,it's Calamity who breaks him out. And it's Calamity who joins him and his gang on a series of daring robberies as Sam seeks revenge on those who done him wrong. The story actually centers more on Howard Duff as Sam Bass, even thou Yvonne and Calamity are billed over Howard and Sam. But, De Carlo still gets a little more than the average pistol packin' cowgirl screen time.

For various reasons, the 1949 western Calamity Jane and Sam Bass has a rather poor reputation amongst film buffs. Many observers feel that stars Yvonne de Carlo and Howard Duff merely go through the motions, while others complain that the usually dependable Universal-International production values are largely absent. Recent cable-TV showings of this film have revealed that, while not in the same league as Stagecoach or Winchester 73, Calamity Jane and Sam Bass is a relatively entertaining rehash of a familiar story. Most of the film consists of Bass' rise to notoriety as a colorful outlaw. On the verge of retirement, he agrees to one last holdup, which proves his undoing. According to the film, Calamity Jane remains by Bass' side throughout his various exploits, even though she ultimately loses him to "nice" girl Katharine Egan (Dorothy Hart).

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