Friday, November 25, 2011

Big Jack (1949)

Director: Richard Thorpe

Starring: Wallace Beery, Richard Conte, Marjorie Main, Edward Arnold, Vanessa Brown, Clinton Sundberg, Charles Dingle

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Meet Mr. and Mrs. Outlaw in MGM's Big Jack

Plot: Set in 1820, a time when "science was a crime and crime not yet a science," the film casts Beery and Marjorie Main as outlaws Big Jack Horner (Beery) and Flapjack Kate (Main). The two bandits rescue visionary young doctor Alexander Meade (Conte), who is about to be hanged for body-snatching. Meade is a tireless campaigner for modern surgical methods, thus he is forced to steal cadavers for his experiments. Big Jack is only interested in having the doc operate on his injured leg, but pretty soon he too is captivated by Meade's idealism. The film's many subplots all come to a head when Meade must prove his surgical theories by performing a delicate operation.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

If I remember right this takes place in New England so it's far from being a Western as indicated on IMDb. Slap in a coastline and some ships and you'd think this were a pirate movie because of Beery who steals every scene with his gravely voice and simple charm. Yarrrrrr. He's a bad man but they sure do sugar coat everything so as not to scare the feint of heart (notice the poster below says, "Not suitable for children" - hahahaha). Whatever. Anyway, it's great seeing Conte in anything. He does a fine job trying to placate Big Jack and doing his medical science work while not arousing suspicion from the locals. It's funny, if dark, and director Thorpe delivers a nicely paced piece of entertainment. He should, he had enough practice. He's got nearly 200 director credits, most of which were before this movie. It'll show up on TCM at some point.

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