Bad Men of Missouri


1h 14m 1941
Bad Men of Missouri

Brief Synopsis

The Younger Brothers become outlaws to fight off carpetbaggers.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Western
Release Date
Jul 26, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

At the end of the United States Civil War in 1865, the Younger brothers, Jim, Bob and Cole, return to their home state of Missouri to discover that carpetbaggers from the North have taken over the state. Because money issued by the defeated Confederate government is now worthless, many farmers cannot pay their taxes. William Merrick, a carpetbagger, takes advantage of this to drive farmers off the land in the railroad's right of way in order to obtain it for himself. Shortly after their return, Martha Adams, Cole's girl friend, dies when the Adams family is forced to leave their home. Hank, the brothers' father, is also threatened with losing his farm for failure to pay his taxes. When Merrick arrives with Sheriff Brennan to take possession, Hank tries to argue his rights and is shot by Greg Bilson, one of Merrick's men, who also kills Brennan. When Cole and Bob return their gunfire, one of Merrick's men sets their house on fire, driving the Youngers away. A warrant is sworn out for the Youngers for Brennan's murder and they go into hiding. A few days later, Pettibone, who works for Merrick, takes the stagecoach to make a delivery of money. The Youngers steal it from him, and at Jim's suggestion, return the money to the farmers so that they can pay their taxes. During a train robbery, the Youngers meet Jesse James and join his gang. The Youngers continue to rob the carpetbaggers and distribute the money to farmers who are down on their luck. Bob is wounded during one of the robberies and when they stop for a doctor, they are recognized and the doctor's office is surrounded by deputies. Jim, who had been at the post office mailing a letter to his girl, Mary Hathaway, stampedes a herd of cattle and the Youngers escape under their cover. Because Bob's injury slows the men down, the Youngers and the Jameses separate. Pettibone suggests that Merrick use Mary to lure the Youngers into the open. They arrest her as an accomplice and Jim offers to turn himself in if Mary is released. That night, Cole and Bob break into the jail where Jim is being held and learn that Merrick and Bilson plan to have Jim murdered when he is moved from the jail. Because Merrick's men have been ordered to shoot at anyone wearing a duster, the Youngers force Merrick and Bilson to wear their dusters and send them out into the street where vigilantes kill them. The Youngers continue to steal and are captured in Minnesota where Mary visits them to explain that Missourians, who see them as heroes, have started a petition for their release.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Western
Release Date
Jul 26, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Bad Men of Missouri


The success of Fox's Jesse James (1939) led to a spate of outlaw stories set in the aftermath of the Civil War in Kansas and Missouri. When the Daltons Rode (1940) is one example of Hollywood populism -- violent thieves from history are given the Robin Hood treatment. 1941's Bad Men of Missouri makes the ex-Quantrill guerillas The Younger Brothers into sympathetic figures, goaded into outlawry by evil carpetbaggers. After their raids, the boys use their loot to help farmers pay the Yankee taxes. Warner contract players Wayne Morris, Dennis Morgan and Arthur Kennedy are the three Youngers, and the handsome Morgan sings a song for good measure. Talk about being in an actor's rut -- Wayne Morris plays Bob Younger in this film, and returned years later to play his brother Cole in the Warner Bros. The Younger Brothers (1949). Jane Wyman is relegated to the sideline, providing a romantic angle. Although the boys pull off daring robberies, much of the action sees them forced into violence by the cheerfully evil carpetbaggers played by Victor Jory and Howard Da Silva. Alan Baxter makes an appearance as Jesse James. Action scenes include several fistfights and a scene of robbers leaping onto the top of a moving train. Ignoring most of the Younger gang's outright murders, the tale sees them captured in Minnesota, leaving girlfriend Jane Wyman to plead for leniency. Critics in 1941 felt that the movie was a historical whitewash with anti-government sentiments, and complained about the lack of realism: the hero-bandits repeatedly escape unharmed through hails of bullets. Perhaps the most realistic film about the notorious historical Younger Brothers is Philip Kaufman's The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972) starring Cliff Robertson. It doesn't pretend that there is honor among thieves.

By Glenn Erickson
Bad Men Of Missouri

Bad Men of Missouri

The success of Fox's Jesse James (1939) led to a spate of outlaw stories set in the aftermath of the Civil War in Kansas and Missouri. When the Daltons Rode (1940) is one example of Hollywood populism -- violent thieves from history are given the Robin Hood treatment. 1941's Bad Men of Missouri makes the ex-Quantrill guerillas The Younger Brothers into sympathetic figures, goaded into outlawry by evil carpetbaggers. After their raids, the boys use their loot to help farmers pay the Yankee taxes. Warner contract players Wayne Morris, Dennis Morgan and Arthur Kennedy are the three Youngers, and the handsome Morgan sings a song for good measure. Talk about being in an actor's rut -- Wayne Morris plays Bob Younger in this film, and returned years later to play his brother Cole in the Warner Bros. The Younger Brothers (1949). Jane Wyman is relegated to the sideline, providing a romantic angle. Although the boys pull off daring robberies, much of the action sees them forced into violence by the cheerfully evil carpetbaggers played by Victor Jory and Howard Da Silva. Alan Baxter makes an appearance as Jesse James. Action scenes include several fistfights and a scene of robbers leaping onto the top of a moving train. Ignoring most of the Younger gang's outright murders, the tale sees them captured in Minnesota, leaving girlfriend Jane Wyman to plead for leniency. Critics in 1941 felt that the movie was a historical whitewash with anti-government sentiments, and complained about the lack of realism: the hero-bandits repeatedly escape unharmed through hails of bullets. Perhaps the most realistic film about the notorious historical Younger Brothers is Philip Kaufman's The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972) starring Cliff Robertson. It doesn't pretend that there is honor among thieves. By Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Humphrey Bogart rejected a role in this film, with the words "Are you kidding?"

Notes

News items in Hollywood Reporter add the following information: Ben Stoloff was originally pencilled in to direct. William K. Howard was then scheduled to direct but was replaced by Ray Enright when the former was assigned to Law of the Tropics (see below). Humphrey Bogart was suspended after he turned down the role later played by Dennis Morgan, and Sam McDaniel replaced Willie Best in the role of "Wash." James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, George Raft, George Brent and John Garfield were all considered for the film. A March 20, 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item lists Ronald Reagan in the cast and a Hollywood Reporter production chart includes Ricardo Cortez in the cast, but neither appeared in the film. This film marked Faye Emerson's debut. According to a Warner Bros. motion picture press release, the studio received a petition from James D. Idol, the mayor of Harrisonville, MO, asking that the film's world premiere be held in the town in honor of the Younger brothers' father, Henry W. Younger, who had been the second mayor. Some scenes were filmed on location in Sonora, CA.
       The real Younger brothers, who lived during the later 19th century, turned outlaw after the end of the Civil War. In 1866, Cole Younger joined Jesse James and was followed by Jim, John and Bob. John was shot dead by Pinkerton detectives in 1874, but the rest of the gang continued to rob banks and trains. In 1876, when the gang tried to rob a bank in Northfield, MN, Jim and Bob were injured. Jesse James left the wounded men behind with Cole and the three were eventually captured and sentenced to life imprisonment. Bob died in jail, and after being parolled, Jim committed suicide and Cole took a job selling tombstones. Technical advisor Pearl May Kearns was Cole Younger's last surviving relative.
       Among the many films that feature the Younger brothers are the 1948 Warner Bros. film The Younger Brothers, the 1948 RKO film Return of the Bad Men, and the 1950 Paramount film The Great Missouri Raid (see below); The Maverick Queen produced by Republic in 1956 and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Alan Hale and directed by Joseph Kane; the 1958 Allied Artists film Cole Younger, Gunfighter, directed by R. G. Springsteen and starring James Best; The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid produced by Universal in 1972, starring Cliff Robertson and Robert Duvall and directed by Philip Kaufman; and The Long Riders, directed by Walter Hill in 1980 for United Artists and starring David Carradine, Keith Carradine and Robert Carradine.