Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Tennessee's Partner (1955)

Tennessee (John Payne) is a professional gambler currently plying his trade at a California establishment owned by the Duchess (Rhonda Fleming). When a disgruntled loser tries to kill Tennessee, Cowpoke (Ronald Reagan), a stranger in town, saves Tennessee's life and becomes TENNESSEE'S PARTNER.

Tennessee tries return the favor by saving Cowpoke from marrying an untrustworthy golddigger (Coleen Gray), and the broken-hearted Cowpoke wants to kill Tennessee. Then Tennessee is charged with murder...

The screenplay, from a Bret Harte story, is nothing particularly special, but TENNESSEE'S PARTNER is a fun, colorful Western with an amiable cast and solid production values. Payne and Reagan make a good team, with Payne as the slick tough guy who's been around and Reagan as the sunny-natured, more innocent Cowpoke. The flame-haired Fleming brightens the screen both literally and figuratively in an energetic performance as a woman who thinks Tennessee is marriage material. The only weak link in this was Gray, who is unfortunately rather colorless in a thankless role.

The supporting cast includes a bunch of familiar faces from '50s Westerns. Leo Gordon, a favorite of mine, has plenty of screen time as the sheriff, while Chubby Johnson plays an old prospector, Morris Ankrum is a judge, and Anthony Caruso is the dastardly villain. Myron Healey is also in the cast.

If you look closely at the "ladies" working for the Duchess, you'll spot Angie Dickinson. A couple of the other actresses looked familiar, but the credits at IMDb are unfortunately incomplete in that regard.

This 87-minute film was directed by Allan Dwan.

The attractive color photography is by John Alton, who won the Oscar for shooting the ballet in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951). Alton was also known for his striking black and white photography of film noir titles like T-MEN (1947), RAW DEAL (1948), and HE WALKED BY NIGHT (1948).

TENNESSEE'S PARTNER is available on DVD in a fine print from VCI.

It's also been released on VHS.


Blogger panavia999 said...

Glad to see your comments because I was thinking of ordering this next time VCI has a 50% sale. I commented on your "Wagon Master" post that I was very critical of horsemanship in movies, and Ronald Reagan was one of the best equestrians in movies. I generally do not like Westerns, but always try if it stars Reagan or Randolph Scott.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope you'll enjoy it. Was interested in your comments on Reagan's riding skill, as well as your comments on WAGON MASTER about horsemen needing to stop abruptly to stay in the frame, although it's not proper horsemanship.

Best wishes,

6:05 PM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

Well, I've never heard about that from anyone else, but when I watch horses being whipped around tight and fast or pulled to sudden hard stops, what other reason is there except to keep it exciting and/or stay in frame without pulling the camera back? Because a good equestrian doesn't do that. It's the equivalent of squealing car tires. And horses being felled with trip wires is simply awful. Watching old movies, you'd think horses are very clumsy animals.
This blog is written by a kid, so it's superficial, but has nice pictures of Reagan and his horses. and here are Reagans own words:
Reagan joined the army in order to get in the cavalry and he was the last president who was an active cavalry officer.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Does anyone know who played the maid, Sabrina?

11:14 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I don't know the answer to that, but perhaps someone will stop by here in the future who knows! :)

Best wishes,

1:01 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks, Laura - she's uncredited, and missing from all cast lists I can find even though it's a speaking part.

8:58 PM  

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