Saturday, March 3, 2012


Marie Windsor turns on the charm and Forrest Tucker likes what he sees in HELLFIRE.
Marie Windsor was a fixture in B films throughout the 40s and 50s. Sometimes a bit player, sometimes the leading lady. She starred in some of the best film noir of the day including The Narrow Margin, Kubricks The Killing and Force Of Evil.  Marie Windsor always livened up whatever film she was in no matter how big or small her role and I always enjoyed when she turned up in a film I was watching.  1949's Hellfire is such a movie.

The movie comes vividly to life with fiery opening credits and an opening montage of indulgent sinners in the wild west. Standing out in this crowd and in the middle of a saloon giving a sermon that falls on deaf ears is H.B. Warner as a preacher trying to get five grand to build a much needed church. When he asks the wrong person, Bill Elliott steps in to protect him. Elliott is a first class card sharp and cheat. But when he goes to put a poker chip in Warners hat, the other players see an ace fall out of his sleeve. Warner, recognizing the good in Elliott, steps between the gambler and an angry gunman.
Marie Windsor is a quick draw killer in HELLFIRE
Elliot manages to escape with the preacher and does what he can to keep him alive. Elliott rpomises Warner that he will build the church. But Warner warns him that he must earn the money honestly and follow the rule book aka the Bible. Later on, a now reformed Elliott enters a new town where he sees Marie Windsor gun down her latest victim. Windsor has some major anger issues. Forced to live a saloon girls life along with her younger sister at an early age, Windsor decided that robbing stagecoaches and killing men who got in her way was far less degrading. But her sister disappeared and Windsor has been seeking answers to her whereabouts at gunpoint. Forrest Tucker (of F-Troop fame) is a marshal on Windsor’s trail.

Forrest Tucker and Bill Elliot battle over deadly Marie Windsor in HELLFIRE
Tucker and Elliott are old friends and Elliott finds out that there is a five thousand dollar reward for Windsor. Just enough money to build his church. So Elliott goes after Windsor. But Elliott isn’t going to forcibly bring in Windsor. He’s going to ride along with her until she gives herself up. He also hopes that by helping her find her sister that she just might develop a little faith in God.  Then Elliott discovers that Tucker isn’t looking to bring Windsor in for the reward money. Turns out that Tucker is married to Windsor’s long lost sister. Tucker is concerned for his wife’s newfound reputation should the dangerous Windsor come back into his wife’s life and hopes to capture Windsor and put her away to avoid an unpleasant reunion. When Windsor discovers that Tucker knows where her sister is, she glams herself up and tries to seduce Tucker into telling her. Windsor is virtually unrecognizable in her saloon girl garb and Tucker begins to give in to her seductions. Elliott, in an effort to keep Tucker faithful and Windsor from prostituting herself, tells Tucker who Windsor really is.

Windsor relaxes in THE PARSON AND THE OUTLAW(1957)
Elliott has another surprise. He’s been deputized by the town Sheriff, an old friend, and uses that power to put Windsor in the local jail and to keep Tucker from being able to bring her in himself. But there are others after Windsor. Jim Davis (“Jock Ewing” from Dallas) and his two brothers are out to kill Windsor for killing their brother. Ultimately it comes down to a confrontation between quick draw killer Windsor and Marshal Tucker. But a photograph and a burgeoning faith in God ends up changing hearts, minds and destinies.

This was a really fun movie. It’s definitely a B western and it has plenty of problems. But there are some interesting religious themes here and Elliott, while having the acting range of a two by four, has some entertaining dialogue that is genuinely witty in spite of his delivery. He’s part preacher part Will Rogers. Winsor is entertaining as always.  There’s something about her that is just very watchable. I like how she reluctantly begins to warm to Elliott as they travel together. There’s a good scene where Elliott is having trouble picking up his saddle after having thrown hot ash at Davis with his bare hands in an effort to escape being killed. Windsor watches him struggle and then helps him. It’s fun to see her get angry with herself for being kind.

The beginning of Hellfire is practically surreal as we see what looks like laughing cowboys in Hell, with preacher Warner as Daniel in the lions den. It's also pretty terrific to see a female gunman…or rather “gunperson” in the lead. These kinds of roles were few and far between for women, particularly in Westerns. I can’t think of many outside of Jane Russell in the Bob Hope western comedy The Paleface and its sequel Son of Paleface or Jean Arthur who played the western hero in such wildly entertaining films like The Plainsman and Arizona. The gender reversal is certainly one of the more entertaining elements of Hellfire. It’s a fun little B western that I recommend and is now playing on Netflix.


  1. Marie Windsor was the best actress Hollywood ever had. She was very convincing in all her roles.
    Marie Windsor said "I never considered myself a beauty." Either she was extremley modest or she needed glasses. Marie Windsor is the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen, and I am not alone in that belief. She dated some of Hollywood's most hansome men and the judges at the Miss. Utah contest made her the winner of the contest.
    She was, even more importantly, a decent girl on the inside. She was concerned about animals out in the cold in wiinter long before it became a now well known cause. In addition she also did many other good deeds. Marie Windsor was a good wholesome Morman girl.
    Marie Windsor was talented in all of her films, but my favorate by far was Hellfire as it was one of her favorites. The film Hellfire was well written and well acted. I liked her in the film because she was tough but fair. Doll Brown was a killer but not a murderer, she never shot anyone in the back.
    Doll Brown gave every man she faced a fair draw (including her deserting husband). She was more women in boots , trousers , gun belt and gun than any phoney lady. Doll Brown was my kind of girl.
    Every tomboy occasionally likes to go completly feminine. Doll Brown was a knockout in her fluffy white dress in the cabin and in her saloon outfit.
    The only thing that I did not like about Hellfire was the ending. Doll Brown never did anything really wrong, she was just a good girl that was mixed up. The way Jim Davis shot her when she was unarmed and keeping Forrest Tucker from bleeding to death and also reading the bibile was sickening and extremley cowardly. She could have taken her finger off Forrest Tucker's neck and let her sisters' hubby bleed to death so she could go over and grab her gun to defend herself against the three apes that were about to burst into the room and kill her, but she chose not to.
    If I was Jim Davis I would have begged the writer and the director of the film to let me give Doll Brown a fair draw.
    If I was Jim Davis I would have been mysty-eyed and apologized to Marie Windsor in private after the scene was taken, I guess that I am not an actor.
    I choose to believe that Doll Brown survived the shooting.
    I hope that Bill Elliott married her at the end of the film. He would have made her a good hubby.
    Marie Windsor well deserves her star on the sidewalk of Hollywood and other awards she recieved.
    A great admirer of Marie Winsdor
    Don Jordan
    Po Box 8224
    Honolulu Hi, 96830-0224
    1 (808) 218-0678

    1. Thanks for the great post, Don! I agree with your thoughts on Windsor and Hellfire. She's a really fun actress. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. This is one of my all-time favorite films, and it certainly deserves to be more widely known. Thanks for doing something to help remedy that.