The Mississippi Gambler
The Mississippi Gambleri is another one of thoseii pieces set in "the Old South"iii dealing with the untenable fantasy of female choice in mating (the thing nowadays recast as "my body, my choice" or somesuch, I don't keep too close track). Needless to say it doesn't work out for the woman in this case any better than in any other, a perennial truth to which the 1950s filmmaking crowd bows by making the cutie-pie kneel at the end. She coulda kneeled from the beginning thereby saving everyone (chiefly -- herself) a lot of trouble, but... well, they're in the business of making movies, which is a slightly different concern.
Tyrone's meh ; but Piper Laurie's indeed a pouty-mouthy cutie (in no small part for being an eighteen year old playing a seventeen year old or thereaboutsiv) while McIntire somehow manages an exquisite rendition of the old riverboat soul. The film gets a lot of 1850s context correctly -- such as for instance the dresses. You might think the period female garment was a stiff affair as if made of paper, because... well, because that's what the studios generally found cheapest to use in their re-enaction for your entertained "education" -- much in the way you think the woman causing (chiefly -- herself) a lot of trouble for no reason is somehow necessary and perhaps even a good thing simply because that's what the scripts always have them do because the scripts gotta fill the ninety minutes somehow. Needless to say none of this is true to life -- real women kneel early (and eagerly), never late, and 1850s dresses were outright vaporous, as correctly depicted herev, such that if the bitch spun on her heels fast enough you could definitely see her butt. The general sense of French styles in couture (which means -- cuts, which yes is the point) is well represented, to the point of making the (otherwise intolerably dull, not to mention tediously artificial) story almost half-interesting (the brief fencing segments are quite well done also).
In sum The Mississippi Gambler manages to be very thoroughly and earnestly French, and 1850s, although just a modest matinee piece churned out by the ever-B Universal.———
- 1953, by Rudolph Maté, with Tyrone Power, Piper Laurie, Julie Adams, John McIntire... and Anita Ekberg. [↩]
- Apparently I never reviewed everyone's go-to standard ; even more concerningly I apparently didn't publish a review on 1938 Jezebel (with Bette Davis playing Scarlet) though I could have sworn... [↩]
- Also known as "the antebellum South", but really ye olde French colonial empire in the Americas. That thing used to stretch from the frozen inuit lands up North all the way through what's now called Illinois down to the mouths of the Mississippi and dwarfing by a colossal margin -- both geographical as well as cultural -- the meager sadness of the Dutch grouped around the Hudson and the Susquehanna that the British eventually inherited, only to elaboratedly mishandle into independence. [↩]
- Who, All-About-Eve-final-ish enough, was actually the president of the Tyrone Power fan club at her highschool. The film did end in an unsurprising divorce for the swashbuckler heartthrob -- though perhaps more because of Anita's re-enaction of Kniendes Mädchen, auf beide Ellbogen gestützt than because of Rosetta's dedication to sucking cock. [↩]
- Bill Thomas. [↩]