Calamity Jane and Sam Bass


1h 25m 1949

Brief Synopsis

Drifter Sam Bass shows up in Denton, Texas (soon to host a great horse race) looking for work. Before long, he attracts the attention of pretty storekeeper Katherine Egan (the sheriff's sister) and that wild frontiers woman, Calamity Jane. Circumstances make Sam richer by a very fast race horse. But his seemingly good luck with horses and women leads him to disaster. Will he be forced into a life of crime?

Film Details

Also Known As
Calamity Jane, Sam Bass and Calamity Jane, The Adventures of Sam Bass, The Story of Sam Bass
Release Date
Jul 1949
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 14 Jul 1949; New York opening: 16 Jul 1949
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Kanab, Utah, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

As soon as gifted Indiana horseman Sam Bass arrives in Denton, Texas, having wrangled a temporary job as a stagecoach guard, he encounters unfriendly Sheriff Will Egan, who suspects Sam is a gambler. The infamous Calamity Jane and a group of rowdy cowboys then barrel into town, guns blazing in celebration of the upcoming cattle drive. Sam impresses Jane with his ability to calm her horse Thunderbolt, and she later watches him flirt with Will's sister Katherine, the general store proprietor. After the illiterate Sam asks Kathy to read a letter from his sister, she realizes that he is broke and wheedles Will into employing him on their ranch. To kick off the cattle drive, Denton plans a big race, in which riders from miles around will compete against the Denton Mare, the fastest horse in the West. On the day of the race, Jane and Sam see the Mare whinnying in pain as she is being shod. Sam asks Will for fifty dollars to buy a horse, and after Will reluctantly gives him the money, Sam bets on Thunderbolt to win. When the Mare falls lame in the final heat, Sam is able to buy her from her owner with the money he has just won. That night, he explains to Jane that he saw the horse was not lame, but just had been shod incorrectly. Jane kisses Sam, even though she says she knows that he loves Kathy. When Will, who detests gamblers, deduces that Sam wagered the money he borrowed, he orders him to leave that night. Before going, Sam professes his love to Kathy, then joins Joel Collins and some ranchers on the cattle drive. They quickly reach Abilene, where Harry Dean and his partner, J. Wells, are running a fixed horse race. The group gamble all their money on Sam's horse, but after Jane accidentally tips off Dean about the horse's identity, Dean and Wells poison the Mare. Upon discovering they have been tricked, the once non-violent Sam kills Wells. The men and Jane are forced to flee into the hills, where they hatch a plan to rob the stagecoach on which Dean is transporting his stolen winnings. As soon as they take the money, however, they are branded as criminals. After Sam sneaks into Denton to explain himself to Kathy, she encourages him to give himself up, along with Joel and the ranchers. In the jailhouse, Will reveals they will be tried in Abilene, and they realize they cannot get a fair trial there. Jane frees them, and Sam, sure that Kathy has tricked them, takes Jane in his arms. Their outlaw status soon forces the band to rob again. After a spy sent by Will tips the sheriff off about the next robbery, a shootout ensues and everyone in the group except Sam, Joel and Jane is killed. Will's posse then chases the survivors into the hills. After a long standoff, Joel is killed and Will shoots Sam. Will returns to town and greets Kathy, just as Jane appears, leading Thunderbolt with a dying Sam slumped in his saddle. Sam passes into semi-consciousness, recounting the dream he shared with Kathy about owning their own ranch. Although he is delirious, Kathy realizes he is talking about her when he says he has loved her all along, moments before he dies in Jane's arms.

Film Details

Also Known As
Calamity Jane, Sam Bass and Calamity Jane, The Adventures of Sam Bass, The Story of Sam Bass
Release Date
Jul 1949
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 14 Jul 1949; New York opening: 16 Jul 1949
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Kanab, Utah, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were The Story of Sam Bass, The Adventures of Sam Bass and Sam Bass and Calamity Jane. According to a February 1949 Daily Variety news item, the title was changed from Calamity Jane and Sam Bass to Calamity Jane, then back to Calamity Jane and Sam Bass. Sam Bass (1851-1878) robbed trains and banks in Texas, as well as stagecoaches in Deadwood, SD. He was shot down by Texas Rangers during a robbery. A song, "Ballad of Sam Bass," was written in his honor and, because of its popularity, Bass acquired folk hero status. Other films featuring Bass as a character are RKOs 1946 picture Badmans Territory ; Columbias 1951 release The Texas Rangers, in which William Bishop portrayed Bass; and Lipperts 1952 film Outlaw Women, in which Leonard Penn played Bass. For biographical information about Calamity Jane, for Badlands of Dakota. Location shooting on Calamity Jane and Sam Bass took place in Kanab, UT, according to Hollywood Reporter. Hollywood Reporter also notes that Marc Lawrence replaced Richard Rober in the role of "Harry Dean." Although Hollywood Reporter production charts add Virginia Christine to the cast, her appearance in the final film is doubtful. In late November 1948, Walter Scharf was announced as the films music scorer, but Milton Schwarzwald is listed as composer in the onscreen credits.