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Calamity Jane and Sam Bass

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Calamity Jane and Sam Bass is a western historical drama movie released in 1949, directed by George Sherman and starring the mesmerizing Yvonne De Carlo, Howard Duff, and Dorothy Hart. This classic piece of cinema art is based on real-life characters and events from the wild American frontier.

At the heart of the film is the blossoming relationship between the tough, yet beloved, Calamity Jane embodied by Yvonne De Carlo, and the infamous outlaw Sam Bass, played by Howard Duff. The film masterfully amalgamates true historical events with a dollop of Hollywood fiction, resulting in a riveting story that keeps audiences on the edge of their seat from beginning to end.

The movie opens with the depiction of a tumultuous period in the American history – the brutal and lawless era of the late 1800s. The small town of Deadwood, where the majority of the action takes place, mirrors the rough-and-tumble character of the frontier. In the midst of this chaos, Calamity Jane, a tough-as-nails female scout respected by all, navigates her way through the lawless land. De Carlo's portrayal of Calamity Jane, fierce yet tender, gruff yet charming, shows an unconventional heroine with a fighting spirit often matched only by the men of her time.

On the flip side is Sam Bass, an infamous outlaw who is on the run, brought to screen by Howard Duff. Taking refuge in Deadwood, Bass meets and, eventually, develops a mutual attraction with Calamity Jane. Bass, although an outlaw, bears a seductive charm allowing the audience to sympathize with his choices. Duff's performance as Bass exhibits a fine balance between a hardened criminal on the lam and a man bearing a certain vulnerability that allows for unexpected heroism.

This romantic interplay between Bass and Calamity Jane is further complicated by the entry of a new character - Kathy Eddington, played by Dorothy Hart. Kathy is a cultured easterner who finds herself in this rural, frenzied environment and becomes a softening presence in the trio's interactions, adding an additional layer to this already dense narrative.

The script cleverly rotates around western elements of train robberies, deadly confrontations, barroom brawls, and horseback chases, along with dramatic undertones of love, friendship, and betrayal. While the fast-paced narrative does not allow for a deep plunge into character development, it certainly provides a thrilling portrayal of life in the Wild West, emphasizing the quintessential struggle for survival and a constant negotiation of personal ethics.

The film also flaunts a remarkable support cast that adds texture. Lloyd Bridges, a hardened cowboy, Will Geer, the hard-nosed town Sheriff, and Milburn Stone, a conniving gambler, are some of the characters that bump elbows in the dusty streets of Deadwood, enriching the wild western milieu.

The cinematography of the film is another of its sterling qualities. The use of wide, sweeping shots contributes to the feeling of expansiveness associated with the setting, while tighter, closer shots during high-tension scenes help heighten the suspense. The barren landscapes, dusty roads, and little wooden buildings effectively capture the authenticity of the era, while the sweeping musical score adds a dramatic backdrop highlighting the gritty nature of the story.

One of the standout visual moments in the film is a stunningly choreographed, large-scale street brawl, showcasing the chaos of the lawless town. It is a masterfully executed scene that brings together the entire town, resulting in a spectacle of bold action.

At its fundamental level, Calamity Jane and Sam Bass is about survival, desperation, and the thin line between being a law-abiding citizen and a criminal during rough times. It neither glamorizes nor repudiates the controversial figures on which the story is based. Instead, it explores these complex characters' lives and circumstances, providing a perspective that's often missing in typical Wild West narratives.

In sum, Calamity Jane and Sam Bass serves not only as an entertaining Western but also as a cinematic study of character dichotomies, set against a gritty backdrop of a challenging era - the old ‘Wild West’. The charismatic performances by De Carlo, Duff, Hart and the entire ensemble, along with an engaging script and stunning visuals, makes this film a must-watch for any lover of classic western cinema.

Calamity Jane and Sam Bass is a Western movie released in 1949. It has a runtime of 82. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 5.9..

George Sherman
Yvonne De Carlo, Howard Duff
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