The Mississippi Gambler


1h 38m 1953

Brief Synopsis

Mark Fallon, with partner Kansas John Polly, tries to introduce honest gambling on the riverboats. His first success makes enemies of the crooked gamblers and of fair Angelique Dureau, whose necklace he won. Later in New Orleans, Mark befriends Angelique's father, but she still affects to despise him as his gambling career brings him wealth. Duelling, tragedy, and romantic complications follow.

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 1953
Premiere Information
World premiere in St. Louis, MO: 13 Jan 1953; New York opening: 29 Jan 1953; Los Angeles opening: 6 Feb 1953
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Gambler Mark Fallon arrives in antebellum Mississippi and immediately meets Kansas John Polly, an expert cardsharp who, despite feigning inadequacy, fails to dupe Mark. Polly is even more impressed when he hears Mark's plan to become an honest gambler, and points out wealthy F. Montague Caldwell as an example of the crooked competition Mark will soon face. Mark is more intrigued, however, by lovely Angelique Dureau, who races into town with her brother Laurent and responds to Mark's attempts to help control her thoroughbreds by reproaching him angrily. That night, Mark joins a poker game with Laurent and Caldwell, and, after insisting on a clean deck of cards, wins so much money that Laurent must pay him with Angelique's heirloom necklace. Caldwell warns him that the next time he accuses him of playing with marked cards he might fall overboard by "accident," but Mark remains unintimidated. When Mark spots Angelique in town the next day, he attempts to return her necklace, but she refuses it. Soon after, Polly learns that Caldwell and his friends are planning to assault Mark, and spirits him onto a ship bound for New Orleans. Caldwell's henchmen quickly jump on deck and attack, but Mark fends them off long enough to jump off the boat with Polly. Within a few days they reach New Orleans, a city Mark loves. At a fencing club, his expertise attracts the attention of Edmond Dureau, the club's most accomplished jouster. Mark reveals to Edmond that he is a gambler who has provoked the ire of Edmond's son and daughter, but Edmond, who admired Mark's father, invites him to his home. There, Angelique continues to refuse the marriage proposals of banker George Elwood, and also spurns Mark. When he notices a portrait of her mother, who died in childbirth, which depicts her wearing the heirloom necklace, he gives the piece back to Edmond. Realizing that Mark is in love with Angelique, Edmond arranges to "bump into" her that night while they are with two beautiful women. She tries to hide her jealousy, but cannot. At the governor's ball held later that week, Mark tricks Angelique into dancing with him by asking her in front of the governor. On the dance floor, he informs her that although he knows she loves him, she must come to him of her own will. Over the next months, Mark earns money gambling to build his own restaurant and casino. One poker game is joined by Julian Conant, who bets badly and, after losing all his money, immediately shoots himself. Mark insists on notifying Julian's sister Ann, a sweet young woman who is now alone in the world. He and Polly help her through the next days, secretly funneling money into her account. As soon as Laurent sees Ann in town, he falls deeply in love with her, but when he proposes marriage, she admits that she loves Mark. He reveals Mark's feelings for Angelique, but she replies that she expects no reward for her love, and Laurent stalks out, enraged. That night, he drunkenly challenges Mark to a duel. Angelique soon hears that Mark has chosen pistols instead of swords, and visits his room to thank him. When he kisses her and accuses her of avoiding men because she is haunted by her mother's death, she runs out angrily. During the duel, Laurent shoots before the countdown is finished. Although Mark is permitted one free shot, he throws his pistols down. Humiliated, Edmond asks Laurent to leave his home, and is crushed when Angelique goes with him. Within days, Angelique is planning her marriage to George and protecting Laurent, who has been socially shunned. Saddened by both events, she visits Edmond, who welcomes her. He then visits Mark to urge him to stop the wedding, but agrees with the gambler that Angelique does not yet know herself well enough to marry happily. Days after the wedding, Laurent has disappeared and George is concerned about Angelique's distant manner. One day, Edmond hears a man refer to Ann as Mark's mistress and challenges him to a duel, which he loses. The same night, Laurent shows up in town and attacks Mark at a bar. They tussle, and Laurent dies, falling upon his own knife. When Mark visits Edmond's deathbed to relay the sad news, Edmond requests that Mark watch over Angelique. Soon after, Mark's financier friends reveal that they are pulling their money out of George's bank, potentially ruining it, because he spends too liberally. George will not listen to Mark's warnings, but when the bank fails, he disappears with the remaining monies, including Mark's. Mark now must resume his riverboat gambling to make more money, and although Ann lets him go gracefully, she breaks down after he leaves. Meanwhile, Angelique's marriage is quickly annulled, and she is compelled to move back into her father's house. There, while looking at her mother's portrait, she hears Mark's words in her head. She races to Mark's riverboat and, just before it sails off, jumps on board and into his arms. When she tries to explain, he kisses her before she can speak.

Cast

Tyrone Power

Mark Fallon

Piper Laurie

Angelique Dureau

Julia Adams

Ann Conant

John Mcintire

Kansas John Polly

Paul Cavanagh

Edmond Dureau

John Baer

Laurent Dureau

Ron Randell

George Elwood

Ralph Dumke

[F. Montague] Caldwell

Robert Warwick

Paul O. Monet

William Reynolds

Pierre

Guy Williams

Andre

Hugh Beaumont

Kennerly

King Donovan

Spud

Gwyneth Verdon

Voodoo dancer

Al Wyatt

Henchman

Dale Van Sickel

Henchman

Michael Dale

Henchman

Bert Lebaron

Henchman

Dennis Weaver

Julian Conant

Andre Charlot

Keith

Marcel De La Brosse

Maître d'

John Eldredge

Galbreath

Tyler Mcvey

Businessman

William Vedder

Minister

Frank Wilcox

Judge

Larry Thor

Captain

Dick Rich

Captain

Bill Walker

Edmond's butler

George Eldredge

Hewitt

Dayton Lummis

Sanford

Roy Engel

Captain of the Sultana

Edward Earle

Lawyer for the Dureaus

Rolfe Sedan

Tailor

Saul Martell

Tailor

Harry Mendoza

Dealer

Maya Van Horn

Mme. Lesanne

Tony Hughes

Teller

Franklin Parker

Bartender

Gayne Sullivan

Poker player

Michael Granger

Poker player

Jeff Sayre

Poker player

James Gray

Poker player

Fred Cavens

Emile

Albert Cavens

Etienne

Fred Berest

Carnes

Lyle Clark

Friend

George Hamilton

George's butler

Ernest Anderson

Bellhop

David Newell

Helmsman

Carl Andre

Mate on the Sultana

James Adamson

Steward

Le Roi Antienne

Singer

Paul Bradley

Gambler

Jeanne Thompson

Guest

Valerie Jackson

Guest

Judy Hatula

Guest

Jeri Miller

Guest

Anita Ekberg

Guest

Renate Huy

Guest

Ruth Hampton

Guest

Jackie Loughery

Guest

Dorothy Bruce

Girl

Angela Stevens

Girl

Alan Dexter

Michael Cisney

Dick Ryan

Joey Ray

Wally Walker

John O'connor

Paul Kruger

Robert Strong

Jack Del Rio

Alex Sharp

Eduardo Cansino Jr.

Paul Weber

Dick Farmer

Buddy Roosevelt

Paul Power

Murray Steckler

Jon Sheppod

Larry Williams

Hart Wayne

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 1953
Premiere Information
World premiere in St. Louis, MO: 13 Jan 1953; New York opening: 29 Jan 1953; Los Angeles opening: 6 Feb 1953
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Sound

1953

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Universal press materials identify Albert and Fred Cavens, the film's fencing technical advisors, as father and son. According to a July 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, seven Miss Universe contestants, including Anita Ekberg in her feature film debut, were cast as "Guests." Noted dancer and choreographer Gwen Verdon, who was known as Gwyneth early in her career, received onscreen credit for the first time as the choreographer of The Mississippi Gambler.
       This film marked Tyrone Powers' first freelance role after serving out a long-term contract with Twentieth-Century Fox. Acccording to modern sources, despite the fact that Powers was suspended from Fox for refusing to accept roles in period pieces, he agreed to appear in The Mississippi Gambler after producers offered him a percentage of the profits for his work in the film. Modern sources confirm that he received a salary of $250,000 and half of the net profits, resulting in earnings of over $1 million. On March 1, 1954, Power reprised his role of "Mark Fallon" in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast, which co-starred Powers' wife, Linda Christian, as "Angelique Dureau." Modern sources include Jack Perrin and George Bruggeman in the cast and credit David Sharpe with stunts and appearing as Powers' double in the fight scene.
       The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound (Leslie I. Carey and Richard De Weese. Although Universal had previously used the title The Mississippi Gambler for both a 1929 film and a 1942 picture, neither is related to this film.