The Bad Man (1941)

Genres - Action, Western  |   Sub-Genres - Traditional Western  |   Run Time - 70 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Far from a great film, The Bad Man is nevertheless a pretty enjoyable film, thanks to the presence of Lionel Barrymore and Wallace Beery. Neither veteran actor is delivering what could be called a finely honed dramatic performance, but both are demonstrating the fine art of scenery chewing and how enormously effective and entertaining it can be. The two stars have their own particular way of chomping the scenery. Beery likes to take a no-holds-barred approach, the kind that dares anyone to get in his way and warns them that he'll knock them off the screen if they do. Barrymore's approach is somewhat more on the sly side; he sidles up on the other actor, lulling him into a false sense of security before pouncing quickly, grabbing the scene and making a decisive getaway with it. When the two are onscreen together, the fireworks are a great deal of fun. When either is on the screen with one of the other players, they simply mop up the screen with them, so it's no wonder that Ronald Reagan and Laraine Day barely register at all. The screenplay is so much nonsense and very stagebound in its structure, but Beery and Barrymore make it worthwhile.