Wednesday, December 26, 2012


This week on TCM, Gene Tierney stars in the wild and rousing Belle Star The Bandit Queen (1941).

The Civil War is over and one thing is for sure, Belle Shirley hates Yankees! Well, except for handsome Major Crail (Dana Andrews), a union soldier trying to keep law in Belle’s corner of the south. But she's quickly turned off by his determination to hang southern hero/rebel and scourge of carpetbaggers everywhere, Sam Starr (Randolph Scott). After Crail discovers Belle has been hiding him in her house, he regretfully arrests Belle's brother and Sam and then burns her house to the ground.

Dead shot Belle then orchestrates Sam's escape and the two get married, becoming a major thorn in Crail's side as they draw more and more disenfranchised southerners to their cause. But as more bloodthirsty thieving cutthroats join Sam and Belle's crew of rebels, Belle fears her righteous goal of driving every last Yankee out of Missouri may be jeopardized by her gang's preference for violence and murder.

Belle and her gang.

Belle Starr The Bandit Queen is wildly un-PC and might not be to everyone’s taste or appeal to some sensibilities. It has its fair share of cringe inducing stereotypes the likes of which I haven’t seen outside of Disney’s Song Of The South, making this a movie that might never be released on region 1 DVD(and that possibility alone makes it worth checking out). Things like the slaves rallying around the southern rebel who's driving all the black carpetbaggers out of town, or scenes like Louis Beavers as “Mammy Lou” holding down Scott as they try to remove a bullet from his rear end as he screams "Get this Ethiopian elephant off of me!"  The films Technicolor photography is so vivid that Tierney's bright blue dress started burning my retinas. The story does get silly, but in a good way.

Yankees beware, Belle Starr The Bandit Queen will be appearing on TCM on Friday, December 28 at 3:00 AM Eastern Time.

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