Beauty and the Bandit (1946)

Genres - Action, Romance, Western  |   Sub-Genres - B-Western  |   Run Time - 77 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Gilbert Roland dominates the action in a colorful performance as the bandit hero the Cisco Kid, this time up against a surprisingly vicious plot by a local doctor to steal land from the local peasants and small ranchers by poisoning them to drive them off, and then reselling the property to absentee European landlords. He finds an unexpected ally in Jeanne DuBois (Ramsay Ames), who starts out as part of the plot but is turned around by Roland's charm and charisma after a few fireworks. The direction is uneven, with William Nigh not quite able to make the flatter parts of the script as entertaining or smooth as they ought to be. Evidently, the producers knew they were in trouble with this downbeat script and took steps to rescue the picture. Seeing the sparks fly in the scenes in the first third of the picture, in which Ames is disguised as a man (which evokes echoes -- albeit very distant -- of Shakespeare's As You Like It) and verbally jousts with Roland, more material was written on the spot for the two of them, depicting a competition that becomes much more heated when her gender is revealed. By her own account, Nigh and Ames were friends, and she was a good sport on this shoot whatever they had her doing, and it's a pity they didn't go further with the rivalry between Roland's and Ames' characters, who might've been the Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones of their era. Roland also wrote some of his own dialogue and poetry for this effort, which seems very hackneyed today, but played just fine for audiences in 1946. (Note: In early TV prints of Beauty And The Bandit, all references to the Cisco Kid and O. Henry in the credits were blacked out, and mentions of the Cisco Kid and "Cisco" in the dialogue awkwardly dubbed over as "Chico" -- one suspects this was because the exclusive TV rights to the Cisco Kid had been sold to another producer for the TV series starring Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo).

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Keywords

bad-guy, battle [war], cowboy, damsel-in-distress, forces [military], good-guy, homestead, love, Mexico, outlaw [Western]