Barbary Coast Gent


1h 27m 1944
Barbary Coast Gent

Brief Synopsis

A bandit from the gold fields moves to San Francisco and tries to go straight.

Film Details

Also Known As
Gold Town, Honest Plush Brannon, The Honest Thief
Genre
Adventure
Western
Release Date
Sep 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Sep 1944
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Borger, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,798ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

Barbary Coast confidence man Honest Plush Brannon is engaged to saloon proprietress Lil Damish, but has been postponing marriage until he has enough money to support himself. As he is planning his next money-making scheme, Plush is confronted by an armed Duke Cleat, his former partner-in-crime, who has just been released from prison after serving two years for his involvement in one of Plush's schemes. After Duke accuses Plush of double-crossing him, he prepares to shoot him, but the quick-thinking Plush fires first. Although Lil insists that Plush wounded Duke in self-defense, the police suggest that Plush leave town, so with money from Lil, Plush buys a train ticket to Denver. Upon boarding, Plush makes himself comfortable in a luxurious private car, which turns out to belong to railroad magnate Bradford Bellamy I. To avoid eviction, Plush tricks the sour-faced Bellamy into believing he is a blackmailing process server. Once in Nevada, however, Bellamy prepares to have Plush thrown out, but is distracted by a telegram from the Gold Town Civic Committee, which wants the tycoon to give a speech in their boom town. As his grandson, Bradford Bellamy III, has settled in Gold Town against his wishes and has become engaged to a local woman, Bellamy resents the invitation and gladly allows Plush to make the speech in his place. In Gold Town, Plush introduces himself to the appreciative crowd as Bellamy's financial cohort. Plush then runs into his old friend Johnny Adair, with whom he used to rob stagecoaches. Now a stagecoach driver, the reformed Johnny, whose daughter Portia is Bradford's fiancée, assumes Plush's impersonation is genuine and congratulates him. Plush then gives Johnny a letter from Bellamy, which is intended for the newspaper editor, but which Plush feels Johnny should have. The next morning, leading citizen Col. Watrous asks Plush to dedicate the cornerstone on the town's new jail, and Plush happily complies. As he executes the ceremonial blow to the cornerstone, however, the edge breaks off, and Plush pockets the broken piece of rock. When two old prospectors, Jake Compton and Tim Shea, ask Plush for a loan, he gives them the rock, and later, they notice it contains gold. Plush then comforts Portia about Bellamy's letter, which is an official announcement of Bradford's engagement to an Eastern debutante. After Bradford reassures Portia that he is not marrying the debutante, he expresses his gratitude to Plush for keeping his grandfather's letter from the press. When Plush then begins pushing his phony mining stock on the townspeople, Bradford, who is aware of Plush's impersonation, gently warns him to stop. That night, Jake and Tim throw the cornerstone rock through Plush's hotel window with a note identifying it as gold-laden. After the local assayer confirms Jake and Tim's assessment, Plush casually asks the jailhouse builder where he got the rock. Plush rushes to the specified location and makes an informal claim on it, then tells Bradford about his strike. Soon, everyone in Gold Town is clamoring to invest in Plush's gold mine, and Plush collects thousands of dollars with which to start mining. In San Francisco, meanwhile, Duke, whose arm has been permanently crippled by Plush's bullet, finds out about Plush's impersonation and heads for Gold Town. Soon after arriving, he meets Portia, who tells him about Plush's gold mine. Later, with gun drawn, the vengeful Duke demands Plush's investment proceeds. Penniless again, Plush is about to flee town when he overhears the local Wells Fargo agent discussing a payroll shipment. Wearing a hood, Plush then robs the payroll from the stagecoach and leaves behind a terrible poem. After several more stagecoaches are robbed by "Jingle Bill," Wells Fargo detective Alec Veeder is sent to Gold Town to investigate. Plush, meanwhile, uses his booty to open his mine and, after much drilling, finally hits the motherlode. Noting that the stage line is never robbed when Johnny is driving, Veeder becomes suspicious of him, prompting Plush to stage a holdup of Johnny's coach. Johnny shoots and wounds Plush, but later, when he notices blood dripping from his friend's arm, he covers for him. At the same time, Lil arrives in Gold Town to warn Plush that Duke stole a stack of his poems from her and is headed back to Gold Town. Just as Veeder begins to suspect that Plush is the robber, Duke shows up and confronts Plush in the street. The two men draw their guns and shoot each other, but only Duke's wounds prove fatal. When Plush's poetry is found on Duke, Veeder is ready to declare him guilty until Plush pridefully takes credit for the verse. Later, the reformed Plush says goodbye to Lil, Bradford and Portia and prepares to serve his one-year sentence in the just-completed Gold Town jail.

Film Details

Also Known As
Gold Town, Honest Plush Brannon, The Honest Thief
Genre
Adventure
Western
Release Date
Sep 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Sep 1944
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Borger, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,798ft (9 reels)

Articles

Barbary Coast Gent -


MGM was simply playing the percentages by having Wallace Beery play yet another irascible boomtown rogue in Barbary Coast Gent (1944), a tale of Old West hijinks not far removed from Beery's earlier Wyoming (1940) and Jackass Mail (1942). Based on the exploits of gentleman thief Charles E. Bolton, aka "Black Bart," who penned poetry at the scene of his crimes, Barbary Coast Gent went into production as The Honest Thief with Beery playing a reformed highwayman who assumes the identity of another man in a mining town on the rise. The actor's regular leading lady during this phase of his career, Marjorie Main, is conspicuous in her absence but ably subbed by younger actress Binnie Barnes, as Beery's saloon owner paramour. The Bolger, California, locations offer genuine prairie flavor while John Carradine chews the scenery as Beery's vindictive former partner; memorable also in supporting roles are Ray Collins, Donald Meek, Chill Wills, Paul Hurst, and Louise Beavers. Helmed by Roy Del Ruth, a former gag writer for Mack Sennett who had made his reputation with a run of pre-Code crime films (Blonde Crazy and Lady Killer) for Warner Brothers). Barbary Coast Gent was another popular hit that drew the begrudging praise of New York Times critic Alexander Woollcott, who allowed that "Mr. Beery's elephantine coyness and rasping basso fit this vehicle like the tarpaulin on a prairie schooner."

By Richard Harland Smith
Barbary Coast Gent -

Barbary Coast Gent -

MGM was simply playing the percentages by having Wallace Beery play yet another irascible boomtown rogue in Barbary Coast Gent (1944), a tale of Old West hijinks not far removed from Beery's earlier Wyoming (1940) and Jackass Mail (1942). Based on the exploits of gentleman thief Charles E. Bolton, aka "Black Bart," who penned poetry at the scene of his crimes, Barbary Coast Gent went into production as The Honest Thief with Beery playing a reformed highwayman who assumes the identity of another man in a mining town on the rise. The actor's regular leading lady during this phase of his career, Marjorie Main, is conspicuous in her absence but ably subbed by younger actress Binnie Barnes, as Beery's saloon owner paramour. The Bolger, California, locations offer genuine prairie flavor while John Carradine chews the scenery as Beery's vindictive former partner; memorable also in supporting roles are Ray Collins, Donald Meek, Chill Wills, Paul Hurst, and Louise Beavers. Helmed by Roy Del Ruth, a former gag writer for Mack Sennett who had made his reputation with a run of pre-Code crime films (Blonde Crazy and Lady Killer) for Warner Brothers). Barbary Coast Gent was another popular hit that drew the begrudging praise of New York Times critic Alexander Woollcott, who allowed that "Mr. Beery's elephantine coyness and rasping basso fit this vehicle like the tarpaulin on a prairie schooner." By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Honest Plush Brannon, Gold Town and The Honest Thief. Although not mentioned in reviews or other sources, Wallace Beery's character appears to have been based on the real-life bandit Charles E. Bolton, or Black Bart, who was known for leaving poems in the strongboxes he robbed. For more information on Black Bart, see entry above for Black Bart. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, exteriors for the film were shot in Borger, CA, a small mining town that was part of the gold rush revival of 1933. In March 1944, Hollywood Reporter announced that snow scenes were to be shot in Lone Pine, CA, but the completed film did not contain any snow scenes. In addition, Hollywood Reporter announced that a "placer mining sequence" was to be shot on M-G-M's biggest outdoor set, but that sequence was not included in the final film. Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts add the following actors to the cast: Jack Kenney, Roscoe T. Ward, Robert E. Burns, Skeets Noyes, Al Freeman, Kit Guard, Tex Cooper, May McAvoy, Rose Langdon, Franz Dorfler, Al Shean, King Baggot, Mahlon Hamilton, John Phipps, Edward Kilroy, Paul Hurst, Jerry O'Neil, Steve Stevens, Eddie Burns, Archie Butler, Phil Schumacher and Joe Yule. The participation of these actors in the final film has not been confirmed. Although Adrienne Fazan is listed onscreen as film editor, George Boemler is credited as editor in early production charts and news items. Barbary Coast Gent was to be shown to troops overseas prior to its release in the U.S., according to a May 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item.