Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Brimstone (1949)

BRIMSTONE (1949) is an enjoyable, if overly complicated, Western about a lawman (Rod Cameron) working to bring down a family of cattle rustlers and robbers headed by Pop Courteen (Walter Brennan).

Brennan, channeling Old Man Clanton from MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946), has a grudge against local settlers which motivates his crime spree with eldest son Nick (Jim Davis) and idiot son Luke (Jack Lambert).

A third son, Bud (James Brown), is not allowed to ride with his father and brothers, but kept at home cooking and shoeing horses. Bud is secretly in love with a settler's daughter, Molly (Adrian Booth, aka Lorna Gray).

One day the Courteens are themselves robbed by a masked man called "the Ghost." Roundabout that time Johnny Tremaine (Cameron) shows up in the area and is accused of being the Ghost, but he ends up signing on as deputy to the mysteriously weasely sheriff (Forrest Tucker).

I'll stop here and not attempt to further describe the dense plot, as it gets a bit hard to follow at times, what with a huge cast, a masked bad guy robbing other masked bad guys, one brother going by another brother's name, multiple people accused of being the Ghost, a good guy turning out to be a bad guy and a bad guy turning out to be a good guy, and so on. And I haven't even mentioned the marshal (Jack Holt) who shows up for a handful of scenes! You almost need a scorecard to keep track of who's who.

And speaking of confusing, there's this publicity still of Rod Cameron and Adrian Booth, who emphatically do not have a romance in the movie! Yet the L.A. Times says it's from BRIMSTONE. The costumes look right for BRIMSTONE, but could it possibly be from Cameron and Booth's OH! SUSANNA (1951) instead? I haven't seen that one yet.

All confusion aside, any time Rod Cameron is in a Western I'm happy, and he's surrounded by an excellent cast, with Brennan a wicked, wicked man who would contemplate killing his own son. (I wonder if Pop Courteen helped inspire the Burl Ives character in THE BIG COUNTRY?) The best advice is simply to enjoy their company and not be overly concerned about following every minute detail of the plot! The Thames Williamson screenplay was based on a story by Norman S. Hall.

Guinn "Big Boy" Williams has a nice role as a genial deputy. I got a particular kick out of a light scene he shared with Cameron at the Old West version of a food truck.

The cast also includes Will Wright, David Williams, Harry Cheshire, and Hal Taliaferro. This was actor-stuntman Chuck Hayward's very first stuntman credit.

BRIMSTONE was filmed in Trucolor by Jack Marta. Parts of the movie are absolutely gorgeous, with lovely Trucolor blues, but there are also some really odd shots; for instance, an action sequence at the start of the movie is in a pale sepia tone, almost black and white. I suspect this was due to stock footage being cut into the movie.

The movie runs 90 minutes and was directed by Joseph Kane.

Many thanks to John Knight for making it possible for me to see this movie.

BRIMSTONE can be streamed via Amazon Prime.


Blogger Kevin Deany said...

As much as I like Rod Cameron in westerns, I always thought he could have played Dick Tracy. He certainly has the jaw for it.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I could totally see that casting, Kevin! :)

Best wishes,

11:13 AM  

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