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original title: The Gambler from Natchez
duration: 1h 28min
tags: This was the South when Creole beauties and highborn ladies fought for the same men --- and Vance Colby courted death in every gambling casino between Natchez and New Orleans! (original poster)
keywords: police, texas, riverboat, policeinspector, 1840s, catfight, cigarettesmoking, cigarsmoking, womenrivalsforman, weapon, waiter, usa, u.s.army, swordfight, scheme, river, revenge, neworleanslouisiana, m
In the romance department, in both films, the hero has two gorgeous women to choose from: one an aristocrat, while the other is a commoner. In "The Mississippi Gambler", Ty Power chooses the stubborn aristocratic one, while in the present film, Vance chooses the barefoot river girl, Melanie(Debra Paget),who practically throws herself at him. In both cases, the younger ing辿nue is chosen. In the present film, we were not absolutely sure who Vance would choose until the ending. The very different personalities of the two ing辿nues is a big factor in making this film a more pleasant viewing experience(at least for men). I'm sure a significant factor in Vance's choice of Melanie over Ivette(Lisa Daniels),was the fact that Melanie saved his life twice from assailants. Besides, she was a real Barbee doll, as Captain Barbee, her father, would agree.
As in "The Mississippi Gambler", there are 3 main villains, 2 of whom relate to Ivette: her brother Andre, and her fianc辿, Claude St. Germaine. Also, Nicholas Cadiz, owner of a large casino. In addition, there is a German gambler who is angry that Vance won all his money. He picks a fight with Vance, and is about to stab him in the back with a meat hook when Melanie lands a frying pan on his head.
So, how did Vance, who originally had no financial interest in either the steamboat Baton Rouge(BR) or the property Araby(where Ivette and family lived), wind up owning both in full? It's a rather complicated story. Thus, I will summarize it as I understand it:
Vance's father, often called 'Chip', invested a 25% interest in the boat BR, as did each of the following: Andre Rivago(Ivett's brother), Cadiz and Claude(Ivette's fianc辿). Chip wagered with Andre their 25% shares in BR, and won. Next, Chip wagered his 50% interest in BR against the Rivago estate: Araby, and won. Andre became enraged and shot Chip dead, placing some doctored cards in his hand, thus negating his winnings. Hence, Vance inherits Chip's original 25% interest in the BR.
Later, Cadiz challenges Vance to a pistol duel for causing the gaming commissioner to close his casino, due to house cheating. Vance wins Cadiz's 25% interest in the BR by winning the duel, giving him a total of 50% interest in the BR. He now bets his 50% interest against Andre's 50% interest(Apparently, Andre obtained Claude's 25% interest, either in a wager I missed, or somehow after Claude was killed). Andre loses the wager. He now bets the Araby estate against Vance's full ownership of the BR, and loses. Andre becomes enraged and tries to kill Vance, but himself is mortally wounded. Thus, all of the 4 original partial owners of the BR are dead, and Vance is now the full owner of the ship and estate. However, he signs the Araby estate over to Ivette, since his quarrel was with her brother, not her. She invites him to share the estate with her, but he declines, saying his heart belongs with the Baton Rouge and Melanie.
In all, I found this obscure film to be of greater interest and enjoyment than "The Mississippi Gambler" or, indeed, most films of that era. You can see it on YouTube. I have one major caveat: How did the waiter manage to see and remember all the details of the card playing leading up to Chip's assassination? If you take the main characters from "The Iron Mistress" (1952), and "The Mississipi Gambler" (1953), which are the gambler, the noble brother and the proud sister, and add the story of the Count of Monte Cristo you will have this film. It could have been a flop, but having Irving Wallace to do the screenplay made quite a difference. Dale Robertson is Vance Colby that comes back from the war and besides almost getting killed, finds out that his father, a notorious gambler has been murdered at the casino. His mission becomes to kill every man that took part in the murder of his father. This film came out surprisingly good, as good as the two others that inspired it, and on a much lower budget. Dale Robertson gives good performance as Colby, Debra Paget a bit out of character. I rate it 8 out of 10.
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