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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

BLACK GOLD (1947)

Mexican/Irish Anthony Quinn had his first leading role playing a prosperous, happily married Native-American who bonds on the road with abandoned, just orphaned Chinese-American ‘Duckie’ Louie. Turns out they’ve each lost fathers to murdering white men. Together with Quinn’s wife (his real wife, Katherine DeMille), they adopt the boy, luck into an oil strike on their modest ranch, become bashful millionaires and raise a thoroughbred horse who wins the 1924 Kentucky Derby. All in glorious (slightly headache inducing) CineColor!* It’s an unusual plot, and loaded with unusual ethnic leads for 1947, even if ‘ringers’ play the Native American couple. Too bad the film’s a complete stinker. A try at reasonably budgeted respectability from Monogram Pictures, and released under their new Allied Artists label, this fact-inspired, but largely fictional story is all hooey, with painfully overdrawn acting, especially from Quinn who aims at simple salt-of-the-earth and ends up as simpleton. Not even Phil Karlson, one of the great B-pic directors, can save it. The biggest mystery is all those first-rate supporting players in bit roles. Somebody (Quinn’s father-in-law C. B. DeMille?) must have called in an awful lot of favors.

LINK: Excellent web-ticle on CineColor - http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/oldcolor/cinecolor2.htm

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY/DOUBLE-BILL: Maybe a better film is hiding under the facts. Much as Shirley Temple’s THE STORY OF SEABISCUIT/’49 improved into SEABISCUIT/’03.

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