Black Bart


1h 20m 1948

Brief Synopsis

Cheerful outlaw Charlie Boles leaves former partners Lance and Jersey and heads for California, where the Gold Rush is beginning. Soon, a lone gunman in black is robbing Wells Fargo gold shipments. One fateful day, the stage he robs carries old friends Lance and Jersey...and notorious dancer Lola Montez, coming to perform in Sacramento. Black Bart and Lance become rivals for both Lola's favors and Wells Fargo's gold.

Film Details

Also Known As
Adventures of Black Bart, Black Bart Highwayman
Release Date
Apr 1948
Premiere Information
San Francisco premiere: 17 Feb 1948; New York opening: 3 Mar 1948
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

From his jail cell, old-time outlaw Jersey Brady tells the story of his ex-partner, notorious highwayman Charles E. Boles, also known as Black Bart: Years earlier, Charles, Lance Hardeen and Jersey are working as outlaws when Charles decides to leave the gang, move to California and pull off one last, big heist, which will allow him to go straight. Although Lance tries to trick Charles out of his share of their hidden loot, Charles secretly double-crosses Lance first and steals all the money. In Sacramento months later, Charles meets Clark, an ex-partner, who now uses his position as a lawyer to commit big crimes. Together, the two plan to destroy the local Wells Fargo bank, create their own bank in its place, and profit from the growing gold rush business. Over the next two months, Clark tips off Charles about all the Wells Fargo money shipments, and a disguised Charles robs each stage until the townspeople lose confidence in the bank. One day, when a masked Charles, who is now known as Black Bart, stops a coach transporting Lance, Jersey and the celebrated dancer, Lola Montez, Lance recognizes Charles' voice and helps to save the coach from his thievery. Lance brings the coach to the bank's relay station, where he further impresses Lola by saving the broken leg of the driver. Soon after, however, Charles, as Black Bart, also intrigues Lola when he sneaks into the station, returns her diamond bracelet and embraces her before fleeing. The next day when they reach Sacramento, Wells Fargo manager Mark Lorimer and Sheriff Gordon hire Lance and Jersey, whom they consider their new heroes, as coach guards. Charles, a respected rancher by day, greets them in the local bar, and although Lance reveals that he knows Charles is Black Bart and tells him that he wants Lola, Charles insists they take out Lola together. One day Charles gets Lola alone and the two fall in love, but after he admits he is Black Bart, she implores him to give up his criminal life to be with her, and he agrees to do so after just one last job. Meanwhile, Sheriff Gordon devises a plan for Lance to act as lookout for a posse of deputies who are to guard a coach carrying the payload that will save Wells Fargo. As Lance and Jersey scheme to rob the stage themselves and blame it on Black Bart, Clark tells Charles that if the stage gets through, their plan will be ruined. Black Bart meets the stage, orders Jersey to throw the money box down as the stage rides past, and escapes from Lance. When he opens the box, however, he finds it empty and realizes the money must still be at the relay station. That night, after Charles tells Lola he has to go back to retrieve the money, she convinces him not to take the risk. Charles then tells Lance that he can steal, and keep, the money. Lance, however, forces Charles to go with him to the relay station, and as soon as they get there, they are ambushed by a waiting posse. They escape into a barn, but when the posse sets it on fire, they are forced to run out and both are shot to death. Jersey wraps up his story from his current home, a jail cell.

Film Details

Also Known As
Adventures of Black Bart, Black Bart Highwayman
Release Date
Apr 1948
Premiere Information
San Francisco premiere: 17 Feb 1948; New York opening: 3 Mar 1948
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

There was something familiar about that kick in the pants I took.
- Lance Hardeen
You must be awfully sensitive to be able to tell one from another.
- Charles E. Boles
One thing about being a crook. You can spot another crook at fifty paces.
- Lance Hardeen
The scum of the whole country is coming west by the wagon-load. We got more criminals than we have citizens.
- Sheriff Gordon
Sounds like an up-and-coming country. Looks like we arrived just in time.
- Jersey Brady

Trivia

Notes

The working titles for this film were Adventures of Black Bart, Black Bart, Highwayman and The Legend of Black Bart. The historical figure of Black Bart, whose given name was Charles E. Boles, reportedly held up twenty-eight Wells Fargo stagecoaches in Northern California before he was apprehended in 1882. The real-life Boles operated alone, used an unloaded weapon, and frequently left poems inside the strongboxes he had looted. He disappeared after his release from prison, and the date of his death is not known.
       This film was the first of producer Leonard Goldstein's many productions for Universal-International. The Los Angeles Times reported in June 1946 that Charles Korvin was being considered for the lead role. According to Hollywood Reporter, Howard Welsch was the picture's original producer. Hollywood Reporter production charts list Gabriel Scognamillo as the art director and includes Edmond O'Brien and Tom Ladd in the cast. O'Brien did not appear in the film, but Ladd's appearance in the final film cannot be confirmed. Modern sources list Joseph West as the story writer, but his contribution to the final film has not been determined. For more information on the character of Black Bart, see Wrangler's Roost (below). In 1967, Al Rafkin directed a Universal-International remake of Black Bart entitled The Ride to Hangman's Tree starring Jack Lord.