Red Garters


1h 31m 1954

Brief Synopsis

A musical about a man, Jason Carberry, who rides into a frontier town looking for his brother's killer, but is surprised to find everyone in the town is celebrating his kin's death and, for that matter, gunplay in general. He eventually discovers the murderer and each man swears to shoot down the other in a gunfight. However, their girlfriends team up to put an end to the bloodshed.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 1954
Premiere Information
Los Angeles premiere: 9 Feb 1954; New York opening: 26 Mar 1954
Production Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

In mythical Limbo County, California, a stranger rides into a deserted town and learns from a gun-toting boy that most of the locals are off attending a barbecue. The stranger then meets pretty Susanna Martinez de la Cruz after his horse rears in front of her buggy and bolts. Instantly smitten, the stranger hops into Susanna's buggy and rides with her to the barbecue, but declines to introduce himself or say why he is there. At the barbecue, meanwhile, town bigshot Jason Carberry delivers a scathing eulogy for Robin Randall, a scoundrel whose murder they are celebrating. When Susanna arrives with the stranger, Jason angrily confronts him, much to disgust of saloon singer Calaveras Kate, who is in love with Jason. Although the good-natured stranger deflects Jason's hostility, Kate asks him to leave town, fearing another murder. Instead, the stranger continues to chat with Susanna and once again is challenged by Jason. Susanna runs away in fear and Jason draws his gun, but is outdrawn by the fast-fingered stranger, who declines to shoot. Jason then admits that he is Susanna's guardian and feels he must protect her from "saddle tramps" like the stranger, a sentiment the stranger seems to appreciate. Just then, flashy Mexican American Rafael Moreno rides up, and he and the stranger engage in a fistfight. After each man takes turns knocking the other down several times, their conflagration is interrupted by the arrival of Judge Wallace Winthrop and his niece Sheila. The judge, who has traveled from Boston in order to study lawlessness in the West, is horrified by the brawl and condemns Limbo County as barbaric. Oblivious, Rafael begins to flirt with Sheila, but she responds with cold indignation. Later, a chicken plucking contest is held, and one of the losing contestants, Indian Minnie Redwing, complains that she was robbed because her chicken was still alive. The contest's judge, Ginger Pete, dismisses Minnie's protest but the stranger intercedes and insists that Minnie was "cold-decked." Annoyed, Ginger Pete draws his gun on the stranger, but once again, the stranger proves faster. Ginger Pete names Minnie the winner, and Minnie realizes who the stranger is┬┐Reb Randall, Robin's brother. Reb admits that he has come to Limbo County to find and kill his brother's murderer and later checks in at Jason's hotel. There, Reb encounters Susanna and, after a brief conversation, comes to the conclusion that she is in love with Rafael. That night at the Red Dog Saloon, where Kate performs, Jason explains to the judge that while Robin deserved to die, the "code of the West" decrees that Reb must avenge his brother's murder and therefore neither Jason nor anyone else in town will try to stop him. Kate, however, demands that Jason find out who killed Robin and then order him to leave town, so she will not have to go to another barbecue. Later, as Susanna, Kate, Minnie and Sheila sit around talking about the men in their lives, Reb and Rafael, who have become good friends, ride up and announce that their efforts to find Robin's killer have proved fruitless. Susanna then asks Jason if she may attend the upcoming 13th of July dance, which honors the only battle Limbo County ever fought, but he refuses, infuriating both Susanna and Kate. At the dance, Reb shows up bearing one of Rafael's distinctive hats, which he claims to have found near where Robin was killed. Rafael, who has been flirting aggressively with Sheila, admits that he shot Robin during a drunken brawl and accepts Reb's challenge to a southern-style duel. Before either man can fire a shot, Kate steps between them and demands they stop. Cowardly Billy Bucket, whose own brother's murder has never been avenged, protests Kate's interference as a "code of the West" violation and convinces Reb and Rafael to resume their duel the next morning. That night, while Kate hatches a plan, Reb and Susanna and Rafael and Sheila declare their love. Susanna and Sheila, however, inform their men that they will leave them if they duel. The next morning, as a crowd assembles to witness the duel, the judge is beaned with a rock after he reveals that he tried to send a telegram to the militia. Fed up, Kate tells Jason that while she wants to marry him, she will always think him as weak if he does not do something to end the bloodshed. Jason then announces that he is going for the militia and dodges another rock tossed by Billy. The duel proceeds, however, and Rafael and Reb fire round after round at each other until Reb finally collapses. Believing Reb dead, Susanna condemns Rafael, but he insists he did not intentionally shoot Reb, as they had an agreement with Kate that they would only shoot in the air. The militia then arrives with Jason, and to Susanna's relief, Reb revives, having sustained only a flesh wound on his forehead. Jason deduces that Reb was shot from the side by another gunman, and Billy is exposed as the sniper. Billy also confesses that he, not the drunken Rafael, killed Robin, because Robin had killed his brother. After Jason declares the end of the "code" and beginning of law and order in Limbo County, he and Kate, Reb and Susanna, and Rafael and Sheila look forward to years of married bliss.

      

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 1954
Premiere Information
Los Angeles premiere: 9 Feb 1954; New York opening: 26 Mar 1954
Production Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Film Length
10 reels

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1954

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film's onscreen credits open with the following written statement: "You are about to see a new kind of `western.' We hope you won't take it too seriously, because our story takes place in a land that never existed, called, Limbo County, California." The Paramount studio logo then appears, followed by footage of Rosemary Clooney, as her character "Calaveras Kate," and other saloon girls singing part of the title song. At the song's conclusion, Clooney and the saloon girls toss their red garters into the air, and when the garters fall back down onto the stage, they spell out the words "Red Garters." The credits conclude with following written statement: "Many people have said: `The movies should be more like life.' And a wise man answered: `No! Life should be more like the movies.'"
              According to news items and Hollywood Reporter production charts, George Marshall replaced Mitchell Leisen as director two weeks into principal photography, and Don Taylor was replaced in the cast. Hollywood Reporter production charts and news items add Bill Roberts, Judy Landon, Pat Blake, Lorraine Crawford, Jane and Joan Corbett and Frank Cardell to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. News items also included Hawaiian singer Hilo Hattie in the cast, but she was not in the released film. Although not her screen debut, as suggested by her onscreen "introducing" credit, Red Garters marked Joanne Gilbert's first significant role. Her first film was Houdini .
       As noted in reviews and news items, Red Garters featured an unusual visual technique, using theatrical sets without walls or ceilings and vivid, non-naturalistic colors. All of the film's scenes, even exteriors, were shot on sound stages. Critics praised the film's innovative look, but were less appreciative of its satiric tone. The picture received an Academy Award nomination in the Art Direction (Color) category. Although an April 1953 Los Angeles Daily News item announced that the picture would be shot in widescreen 3-D, with "colored cycloramas," it was released in standard format.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video April 28, 1993

Released in United States Spring March 1954

Mitchell Leisen worked as director for three days, then was fired over script disagreements.

Released in United States Spring March 1954

Released in United States on Video April 28, 1993