Mary Rutledge arrives from the east, finds her fiance dead, and goes to work at the roulette wheel of Louis Charnalis Bella Donna, a rowdy gambling house in San Francisco in the 1850s. She falls in love with miner Carmichael and takes his gold dust at the wheel. She goes after him, Louis goes after her with intent to harm Carmichael.
|Barbary Coast Movie(DivX)||Resolution: 720x480 px||Total Size: 939 Mb|
|Barbary Coast Movie(iPod)||Resolution: 480x320 px||Total Size: 288 Mb||
Not too much appealing is this early Howard Hawks production, with thepossibly exception of Edward G. Robinson as the bad guy. Although he ran acasino, for some reason he was costumed as a dandy pirate. Regardless, heran early San Francisco his way- with a sneer and a stogie- and woe toanyone who'd try and stop him.This film is populated by stock characters spouting overly dramaticdialogue, and there's really nothing much here that engaged me. I givethismovie 4/10, and even that's resting on Edward G. Robinson'sattitude.
A mediocre Hawks entertainment, on his usual theme of tough, displacedmen and women falling in love, with a very strong cast but a rathertrite and badly-paced storyline. Miriam Hopkins is the self-consciouslytough broad who pitches up in Gold Rush-era San Francisco, and alliesherself to casino owner Edward G. Robinson Â who has a really funny,ever-present curl trespassing onto the right hand side of his face Âonly to fall for soppy poet Joel McCrea. To get an idea of just howsanitised the movie is, it's worth noting that Joseph Breen, the headof the Hays Office, thought the original script was the filthiest thinghe'd ever read, but regarded the film as absolutely charming. There'ssome wonderfully poetic Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur dialogue in theopening exchanges ("However soiled his hands, the journalist goesstaggering through life with a beacon raised" Â just beautiful), but itdries up alarmingly quickly, while the story degenerates into tiresomebickering, before reinventing itself as a gruesome love letter tovigilantism. Breen seemed to espouse a strict pro-death-penalty, anti-double-bed viewpoint that's difficult to get on board with nowadays.(I'm also not sure what the form is on everybody celebrating thearrival of a "white woman" - seems a bit racist.)There are a few atmospheric shots in fog-shrouded San Francisco Âthough conveying the sweep of the burgeoning town is never evenattempted Â but the real selling point is the performances. Hopkinsgives one of those faintly wooden, sub-Stanwyck, but nonethelessintriguing performances combining genuine, even enrapturing emotionalattractiveness with the ability to be a bit irritating, while bothWalter Brennan and Robinson make the most of familiar roles: Brennan ahoarse crook with an eyepatch and a quietly-emerging conscience,Robinson a menacingly-mewling tough guy who doesn't really understandhow love works. McCrea is cast in one of those parts that can come offas unbearably smug (I'm thinking of Leslie Howard's horrendous role inThe Petrified Forest), while the script asks him to swallow some ratherquestionable plot developments, but he's not bad, playing more fey andsensitive than was usually required. There's also a very funny bit partfor J.M Kerrigan, who shines as a drunk judge in an incongruous,inappropriate but riotous comic interlude. Barbary Coast never reallymanages to clamber over its main obstacle Â a disjointed, at timesslightly tedious story Â but some very nice acting and the odd goodline or arty shot make it worth a look, especially for fans of thedirector.
OK, so Edward G. was a little one dimensional in this ancient flick, but Miriam Hopkins and Joel McCrea more than make up for it in this entertaining drama. Good support from Brian Donlevy and another guy I can hardly remember. Good story, and Hopkins is absolutly lovely. Recommended, however Robinson looks positively ridiculous with those sideburns. Walter Brennen, by the way, is totally wasted.
All I have to say is this is one of THE most perfect films ever made! I mean, come on, how can you beat a movie that has all of the best main ingredients, ie.~ Joel McCrea is all of his perfect glory!~ Joel McCrea fawning over Percy Bysshe Shelley's writing in all of his perfect glory~ A lovely period film with wonderful acting and actors!~ Did I mention Joel McCrea? Oh, specially the line where he tells Miriam to read the book of Shelley and pretend he wrote it! Ooooooh, doesn't get any better than that!
I love the story about Sam Goldwyn who said that he bought the rightsto the title, Barbary Coast, and then said to the writers hired towrite a story with that title.They gave him a story that made a pretty good picture. Edward G.Robinson is at his snarling best as a nineteenth century version ofLittle Caesar on San Francisco's Barbary Coast during the gold rushdays.Basically Miriam Hopkins has come to San Francisco to marry a newlyminted millionaire whom she barely knows, but finds he's dead andfortune gone on her arrival. Since there was no real love involved, shedoesn't have a problem teaming up with the man who probably had herfiancÃ© robbed and killed, that being Edward G. Robinson.It's a pretty lawless place San Francisco. It's been newly acquired bythe USA in the Mexican War and it being one of the great naturalharbors of the world, a perfect arrival point for people traveling bysea to the gold fields. And such law that's operating is pretty muchoperating for the town bosses. There is a scene where after BrianDonlevy, who's Robinson's chief henchman, kills a man a trial is heldright in Robinson's gambling palace. It's an impromptu affair with acrooked judge who naturally finds Donlevy not guilty.It's no wonder that certain citizens form a vigilante committee torestore some kind of justice to San Francisco. All part of the colorfulhistory of that place. And that part of the film is well done.Where Barbary Coast fails is in the romance department. Miriam Hopkinsthough a woman of conscience has a practical side to her. The weaknessof the film is in Joel McCrea's performance. He's a prospector whohaving made his fortune wants to return home. He has a chance encounterwith Hopkins and she takes a shine to him and McCrea doesn't know she'sRobinson's main squeeze.Now I'm a big fan of Joel McCrea, the most virtuous of heroes Hollywoodever produced. But in this one, he's not really virtuous as much ashe's an idiot. Let's just say that I cannot understand why Hopkinswants anything to do with him. A much stronger character might havebelievably taken her from Robinson, but not McCrea in this film.Barbary Coast was responsible for the first real notices of twoprominent character actors. Walter Brennan had been knocking around foryears, but he received his first real attention as a player aswaterfront character Old Atrocity. And with minimal dialog, BrianDonlevy made his first real impression on film audiences as Robinson'sstrong arm killer.It's entertaining, but I'd mute the sound when Barbary Coast turns awayfrom the action.
Barbary Coast (1935) *** 1/2 (out of 4)Masterful acting highlight this overlooked gem that features just abouteverything you'd want out of a classic from the Golden Era of movies.Miriam Hopkins plays a poor girl from New York who travels to SanFrancisco to marry a man she's never met but once she arrives shelearns that he has been murdered. Since she didn't love him, shedecides to team up with the man responsible for his death, a ruthlesscasino owner (Edward G. Robinson) who wants to keep the town under hisrule. Soon the woman begins to have second thoughts after meeting youngman (Joel McCrea) from her old hometown. Hawks has a big followingtoday and many consider him one of the greatest director's of all timebut I'm really not sure I'd join such high praise. I did find it ratherstrange that when people mention his work this title is often left out,which is too bad because I found this to be one of the mostentertaining of his career even though he did take the picture overfrom William Wyler. Some have called this LITTLE CAESAR set during thegold rush and that might be a fair saying but you could also mix inanother Robinson picture, THE HATCHET MAN. This film here is pulpentertainment from start to finish as we have three legends reallygiving it their all in a pretty good story that contains romance,action, drama, comedy and one masterfully directed sequence. Thissequence takes place as a vigilante group is holding a trial whilewalking through some mud. The sound effects used here and the constantediting down towards the mud is priceless and will certainly remain inthe viewers mind long after the film ends. Robinson dives head firstinto his role and really delivers one of the finest performances of hiscareer. His scenes where the character goes mad or better yet, lovestruck, are priceless and really pack a nice little punch as he goesoff the deep end. The evilness Robinson brings to the role was not onlycreepy but it added to the entertainment value just because it willalso put a smile on your face. Hopkins is also terrific and manages todeliver a full performance full of all sorts of emotions. Her charactergoes through various stages and the actress captures all of themperfectly. Her and Robinson have wonderful chemistry and I was shockedto learn after the movie that the two hated working with one another onthis film. McCrea is also terrific and plays the naive and soft-spokencharacter wonderfully. The supporting cast features the wonderfulWalter Brennan, Frank Craven, Brian Donlevy, Harry Carey and DonaldMeek. The film's biggest problem is the ending, which really felt addedon but I haven't been able to find anywhere that it was forced by thestudio. Why this film isn't better known is beyond me but there'senough packed in here for two movies so hopefully more people willcheck it out.
Especially in the early decades of talkies, the rowdy Barbary coast ofSan Francisco was a popular story locale for Hollywood films. Theseoften featured a self-made kingpin as the lead male and a young naivewoman from the East, who becomes the star attraction of the kingpin'smain business establishment, as the lead female. Some examples include"Frisco Kid", released the same year as this film, "San Francisco",released the next year, and the later Fox musical "Hello, Frisco,Hello". As kingpins go, Eddie Robinson's pugnacious, power-drivencharacter: the colorful Luis Chamalis, is portrayed as an extremeversion, claiming to own about everything and everybody worth owning inSF(no doubt a gross exaggeration).I'm very surprised that no one has noted the striking parallels betweenthe plot and characters of this film with the later "The Sea Wolf",which again has Eddie Robinson hamming it up as a supertyrant, whoknows his time as such is limited, but would rather go down with hisship than relinquish his all powerful position. In "The Sea Wolf", IdaLupino serves as the equivalent of Miriam Hopkins(as Mary Rutledge) inthe preset film. Literary Alexander Knox and drifter John Garfieldserve as a combo of the characters portrayed by Joel McCrea, FrankCraven and Harry Carry in the present film, who provide the mosteffective male resistance against the bully. Also, fog is a frequentfeature of the outdoor scenes in both these B&W films.Eddie and Mariam together carry this film, both skilled in impartinggreat melodramatic intensity to their characters. In the first half ofthe film, Mariam's Mary('Swan' to Chamalis) appears to be the femaleequivalent of Chamalis's amoral hustler character. On the other hand,she appears to be the only person who can influence Chamalis to tonedown his cruel and murderous deeds to maintain his status as the defacto boss of SF. Whereas Chamalis appears to be irredeemably evil,until the very end, when he knows his game is up, Mariam's character iseventually revealed as more complex. She can no longer stomach her rolein cheating prospectors out of all their gold, and as the moll of a manas cruel and murderous as Chamalis. Thus, she eventually succumbs tothe initially repulsed overtures of handsome, laconic, literary, nativeNYC prospector Jim Carmichael(Joel McCrea), who agrees to do menialjobs for Chamalis to earn a ticket back to NYC, after losing all hisgold to Chamalis's fixed gambling wheel, hosted by Mary. Somehow, Jimdetects a moral Mary underneath her facade as a cheating hustler.Whereas Mary initially mocks Jim's easy going poetic persona, sheeventually accepts his offer to take her back to their native NYC.Naturally, Chamalis is opposed to this development.As is true is some other films, McCrea's character, who serves as theromantic lead, is not the lead male(a villain in this case), nor themain dramatic hero. True, he offers to provide Mary with an acceptableavenue of escape from Chamalis's world, but it's Jed Slocum(HarryCary), as the leader of the vigilante committee, and Colonel Cobb(FrankCraven), as the newspaper owner-editor, who are the main heroes of themovement to destroy Chamalis's evil empire.Although Brian Donlevy, as Chamalis's chief bouncer and hatchetman:'Knuckles', doesn't have a great deal to say, this role catapultedhis film career. A few years later, he would be McCrea's chiefadversary in Cecil de Mille's epic western "Union Pacific". CharismaticWalter Brennan, as "Old Atrocity" is a significant player in Chamalis'soperations, if he receives no respect. Besides charging outrageous sumsto ferry new arrivals from ships to shore, he talks up Chamalis'sestablishment to prospectors.Apparently, he has a life-long history ofcriminal doings all over the US...Near the end of the film, 'OldAtrocity', Mary, and even Chamalis perform acts relating to Jim thatoffer a small measure of redemption for their evil doings. Knuclesdoesn't get a chance for redemption. The vigilante committee took careof him first, in a crackdown on Chamalis's empire.The background and very limited stage music is almost exclusivelyStephen Foster standards, especially "Jeanne, with the Light BrownHair". Foster composed most of his well -known songs from 1848-54. Only"Oh, Suzanna" was composed just in time for the '49ers. If this storytakes place in 1850, "The Camptown Races", featured in one scene, wouldhave been a current hit. "Jeanne" wasn't composed until 1854.
Somewhat run-of-the-mill period piece combining characters and storypoints probably seen to better effect elsewhere. I could accept E. G.Robinson in his role as a swaggering casino owner in his puffy shirtand earring (and severe sidechops), and he leavens his evildoing with alittle bit of pathos in his yearning for a woman who will love him forhimself. Poor sap hasn't learned that having people shot in the back isa poor way to impress a woman. Miriam Hopkins does a fine job, mostly,but she sometimes uses her eyebrows to punctuate her dialog a littletoo much. Hawks should have told her to tone down the brow action alittle. The opening sequence as the ship pulls into a fog-enshroudedSan Francisco Bay is beautifully shot.
In 1849, the discovery of gold in California triggered an intense waveof immigration. Thousands of adventurers cross the Rocky Mountains toreach the Pacific coast, attracted mainly by the city of San Francisco."Barbary Coast" is another master class in film directing master'sHawks a cast led by Edward G. Robinson, Miriam Hopkins and Joel McCrea,with luxury side like Walter Brennan.It was directed by Howard Hawks and William Wyler and starring in theleading roles by Edward G. Robinson and Miriam Hopkins. Edward G.Robinson makes one of his great interpretations of character bad guyand as we see actor Walter Brennan, surprisingly with the sameappearance as in "Rio Bravo" (1959) and equally good job.A film with narrative pace, with characters well defined, with superbperformances, with economy of means, with a perfect picture.The film is very entertaining though it is among the best of HowardHawks.
This film is a real find not for the main actors but for the bit players. Its really entertaining and captures the 1849 city by the bay in all its glitter and mud. It's nicely paced and except for some shots that seem a tad redundent the fog hides the mystery of the love affair. Walter Brennan is super and plays the old sawdust with a moral conflict. I enjoyed the whole story and for 1935 it seemed was ahead of its time. Worth a rental or for the price above to be a keeper :)
Given the array of talent assembled for this project, the resultdisappointed me. The script is funny and very smart, but Robinson'sportrayal of an 1850s casino boss in San Francisco comes off poorly tome,especially as he basically struts and does the same act as his 20sgangsterthing, but wearing puffy flamenco shirts. Hopkins is good, and verycharming, in her role, which is the center of the film's plot and heart.McCrea is given a fairly one-dimensional lead. Seems to have been someconfusion over what kind of film they were trying to make over at Goldwynstudios.
I'd never seen it, never really heard of it until I saw it offered fornext-to-nothing and bought it on the strength of a Hecht-MacArthurscreenplay, direction by Howard Hawks and a cast headed by EddyRobinsion and Miriam Hopkins - not the most natural teaming. To say Iwas bitterly disappointed is to say that 9/11 was unfortunate. I wasunable to identify one single frame that said 'Howard Hawks' and evenmore incredible it seems that Hawks took over from Willy Wyler. There'snot a scintilla of originality in the story and even less chemistrybetween Robinson and Hopkins or Hopkins and Joel McCrea, who providesthe third facet of the eternal triangle. Frankly I'm sorry I bothered.
Miriam Hopkins plays beautiful Mary Rutledge who arrives in San Francisco in the 185O's to marry Dan Morgan - only to discover that he died mysteriously after losing his fortune to Louis Chamalis (Eddie Robinson), the powerful owner of the Bella Donna saloon. Mary works for Chamalis as a roulette operator: he falls for her, but she does not reciprocate his feelings. Then a handsome, well-bred Easterner named Jim Carmichael appears in the Bella Donna: Mary finds her man...Robinson's performance is not one of his best, but Hopkins is first rate and McCrea does an admirable job. William Wellman was originally assigned to direct this film which was originally supposed to team Gary Cooper with Gloria Swanson (!). This marked the first film in which Howard Hawks directed for Sam Goldwyn. In his second American film, David Niven is seen as as a Cockney sailor. The script was written by the esteemed team of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. In his first appearance in a Goldwyn film, Walter Brennan is seen as Old Atrocity (!).
I wasn't expecting much when I watched this, but It's pretty good. It'ssetin San Francsico in 1849 during the gold rush. It's got a great cast likeMiriam Hopkins, Edward G. Robinson, Joel McCrea, Harry Carey, BrianDonlevyand Walter Brennan. It was also directed by Howard Hawks. Watch it if yourafan of the cast.
Director Howard Hawks rarely made misfires, even "Land Of The Pharaohs"qualified as interesting, but this hybrid Edward G. Robinson law andorder saga about the wild and wooly California coast during the goldrush era of the 1850s is curiously lackluster. The movie belongs toHopkins who shows up at the outset, but Robinson doesn't stroll inuntil a good quarter hour has passed. The naive hero--JoelMcCrea--doesn't arrive for about a half-hour later and he makes arather passive hero. Basically, "Barbary Coast" concerns a lovetrianble among ruthless underworld boss, the mail-order bride that goesto work for him, and the innocent drifter that she falls in love withmuch to the chagrin of the crime boss.As greedy Luis Chamalis, Robinson wears an ear ring, frilly shirts, andowns the biggest casino in San Francisco called the Bella Donna. Hedispenses the law and order, but primarily it is disorder that hecreates in the amoral town. Miriam Hopkins is Mary Rutledge and she hascome on a square-rigged ship from New York to marry Dan Morgan, but shelearns on her arrival that her fiancÃ©lost all his gold as well as hislife at the Belle Donna gambling tables. Dan was a poor shot and poorshots do not live long in San Francisco. She refuses to leave town andwinds up working the roulette wheel for Chamalis, the very sameroulette wheel that brought about the death of her fiancÃ©. Luisnicknames her Swan because she is as soft and desirable as a swan.Eventually, Chamalis demands love and attention from Mary, but shedenies him these affections.One day Mary takes a horse and rides in the country, but she is caughtin a soaking downpour and takes refuge in a cabin. As it turns out, theman in the cabin has just settled in is a Jim Carmichael (Joel McCrea)and he is just passing through, too. This young prospector has dugsacks of gold out of the earth and is heading into town. No sooner doesJim see Mary than he falls desperately in love with her. He stumblesinto the Bella Donna and loses all his gold on the roulette wheel. Maryfeels guilty because she has cheated Jim, just as her fiancÃ© wascheated. At the same time, Luis--who rules the town--with the help of acold-blooded killer, Knuckles (Brian Donley) suppresses the localnewspaper editor Col. Marcus Aurelius Cobb (Frank Craven) frompublishing derogatory stories about him.Things take a turn for the worst for Luis when Knuckles murders a minerSawbuck McTavish (Donald Meek) and eye witnesses see him. Earlier, Luisgot Knuckles out of a tight spot by calling in a favor from a drunkenjudge, but Knuckles is not so lucky this time around. Not only does hekill Sawbuck, but he also kills Cobb. The newly formed vigilantecommittee led by Jed Slocum (Harry Carey, Sr of ANGEL AND THE BADMAN)and his followers hang Knuckles on the spot and go after Luis.Meanwhile, Mary and Jim try to escape from the jealous Luis. Just as itappears that the hero and heroine are going to bite the dust, thevigilantes show up and prove the standard moral that crime does not payand haul off Luis.There is nothing particularly outstanding about this Hawks movie. Thedialogue by two Hawks collaboraters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur isnothing special and neither is this movie. Hopkins makes anunsympathetic heroine until she falls from fellow New Yorker Jim.Walter Brennan steals the show as Old Atrocity, a sneaker grifter, whois never up to anything good. The characters are not that compellingand neither is their predicaments. Robinson makes a strong villain, buthe isn't strong enough to force Hopkins into loving him. Nothing aboutthis well-photographed yarn is memorable and it ends up being a minorpotboiler.
I sometimes think San Francisco of the 1800's must have been the liveliest town in human history. Gold! Dames! Gambling! And periodically, huge fires! Howard Hawks directs an intense, lesser known tale of the wild Gold Rush era in "Barbary Coast", a riveting movie well worth seeking out for film buffs.Sporting a good performance from Joel McCrea, a great one from Edward G Robinson and a magnificent one from Miriam Hopkins, this film follows the initially depressing adventures of the cynical Mary, who arrives in San Francisco just in time to miss her fiancÃ©e's killing. She sets up shop with Robinson (in full gangster mode) only to fall for the sweet, gentle-yet-manly McCrea. Lies, redemption, and just desserts follow. Worth seeing for Hopkins' final scenes with Robinson (wrenchingly begging for McCrea's life) and the lovely, foggy cinematography, the only drawback is that "Barbary Coast" is not what you would call a fun movie. Buy it if you're a big fan of the leads or enjoy heartbreak. Just don't skip it altogether.GRADE: B/B+Bonus Points: Walter Brennan, and the horse he rode in on.
In Leonard Maltin's movie guide, he gave this movie three and a halfstars (a very high rating) and THE FRISCO KID (the Cagney version) onlytwo stars. This is very odd, in that both movies came out the very sameyear and had a virtually identical plot. Apart from a few minordetails, they are almost the exact same film. The biggest differencewas that BARBARY COAST starred Edward G. Robinson and was made byGoldwyn International Pictures, whereas THE FRISCO KID starred JimmyCagney and was made by Warner. Considering that Cagney and Robinson arevery similar actors, I really could understand someone mixing the twofilms up in their minds.Here are just some of the similarities: --Both are set in San Francisco at about the same time period duringthe Gold Rush. --Both feature the lead owning the biggest gambling house on theBarbary Coast. --Both men are pretty corrupt and the excesses in their lawbreaking andcontrol of the government resulted in the formation of a VigilanteCommittee to take the law into their hands. --Both featured a lady that both men are in love with but just can'tseem to win. --Both feature the lead having a major change of heart at the end ofthe film. One is ultimately hung and the other narrowly avoids ahanging. --Both feature a crusading newspaper editor or owner being killed forspeaking the truth.--Both make San Francisco look like Hell on Earth.So, in essence we have one movie, not really two. There's no need tosee them both, but which one you'll prefer may depend on yourpreferences. If you want an almost irredeemably wicked lead who is abit wooden, try BARBARY COAST. If you want a lead who is bad but youstill like him despite everything, see the Cagney film instead.
Other reviewers have described this movie/product well -- leaving no need for me to add my 2 cents other than to agree heartily that this is a 4 to 5 star find.
This review is from: Barbary Coast (DVD) Howard Hawks' 1935 production of BARBARY COAST is an enjoyable romantic adventure in the tradition of "San Francisco" and "In Old Chicago". Miriam Hopkins, Edward G. Robinson and Joel McCrea play out a stormy love triangle set against the lawless days of the San Francisco gold rush.Into the bustling port of San Francisco arrives Mary Rutledge (Miriam Hopkins), out to stake her claim with the city's richest resident, to whom she's engaged. When it's revealed that he has been killed, she sets her sights on Luis Chamalis (Edward G. Robinson), owner of the Bella Donna saloon and unofficial "mayor" of the lawless port city.Pretty soon, Mary has transformed herself into "Swan", the most glamorous hostess of the Bella Donna; and operator of the roulette wheel (rigged, of course). But when Mary learns more about the way in which Luis doles out "justice", she decides to run away with handsome prospector Jim Carmichael (Joel McCrea). As the romance of Mary and Jim plays out, the residents of San Francisco form a covert vigilante group, with the aim to stop Chamalis once and for all...BARBARY COAST is a colourful romantic drama featuring two of the most fascinating stars of the 1930s'. Fans of Miriam Hopkins will adore her here, dressed in some beautiful Omar Kiam costumes (including a gown constructed almost entirely of white ostrich feathers). Edward G. Robinson is able to bring shades of his iconic "Little Caesar" character to the role of Chamalis, San Francisco's tyrannic, self-appointed ruler. BARBARY COAST also features sharp work from Walter Brennan and Brian Donlevy; look closely for David Niven as a drunk Cockney sailor.The DVD includes a beautifully-restored B&W print, plus the requisite trailer. (Single-sided, single-layer disc).
In 1848 the Treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican - AmericanWar, with the secession of territory from Mexico to the U.S. of most ofthe current southwestern U.S. (California, Arizona, New Mexico, anyclaims to Texas - as well as parts of Colorado, Utah, and Nevada). Thiswas a war of conquest by the U.S., but to assuage American consciencesfifteen million dollars was paid to Mexico for this territory. Only asubsequent bit of southern Arizona and New Mexico (known as the"Gadsden Purchase") was made as an addition in 1853 by the PierceAdministration, giving us the current southwestern border.While the territory of Northern California (as opposed to the territoryof Baja or Southern California - still part of Mexico) had always beena bit too far from Mexico City for proper control over localgovernment, the change to Washington, D.C. - more than twice thedistance and across a continent - further seemed to weaken nationalcontrol of the territory. Moreover the population, being mostly Latino,was hostile to the non-Latino U.S. Government. It is in the next fewyears that California's so-called answer to Robin Hood, JoachinMurrieta, is continuing the Mexican War by his guerrilla/banditattacks. Under normal circumstances, it would have taken a generation for theU.S. to be really bothered by this. But in 1849 gold was discovered inCalifornia, and the world rushed in. Suddenly the territory had nearlyone million population within a year, and demanded statehood. Thiswould lead to the controversy about admitting California to the Unionas an free state, and unbalancing the balance of the U.S. Senate. Thisin turn led to the Compromise of 1850 which enabled California to enterthe Union as a free state, but guaranteed a fugitive slave act as a sopto the South. It put off the Civil War (or ignited the path to theCivil War) ten years later.But for a big state, with wealth and population and size, Californiahad a bad reputation. The towns of San Francisco and Los Angeles boomedin population - in particular San Francisco with it's immense harbor.But their governments were pitifully unable to maintain public order.Fires (arson caused) were frequent. So were killings, usually tied torobberies of the prospectors with more gold than sense. Judges andpolice were frequently paid off by gamblers and crime gang leaders.Finally, in 1851, the better elements of San Francisco put their footdown and formed a vigilante committee. They arrested several dubiouscharacters, held stream-lined trials (where many legal niceties wereditched) and if the parties were found guilty (which usually happened)they were hanged in public. It sort of calmed things down, but then thecontinued prosperity of the state caused the same problems to reappear.In 1856 two incidents reignited the Vigilante Committee. First a localoutspoken newspaper editor, James King of William, was shot and killedby a corrupt local political alderman named James Carey. Then a gamblernamed Charles Cora shot and killed a police official. Both men werearrested, given the drum-head trial, convicted, and hanged. TheVigilantes retained control of San Francisco for the rest of the nextyear before disbanding. They never had to make a third appearance.Were they real heroes or a lynch mob? It still is debated. James Kingof William was right about the corruption and crime, but he was a"Nativist", and his attacks were also against Catholics, such as Carey(an Irish American) and Cora (an Italian American). Many of his fellowswere also Protestants, and some may have had pecuniary interests inattacking the businesses controlled by the Catholics. So the realsituation is not black and white, like this film suggests.Edward G. Robinson's Luis Chamalis was based on Charles Cora, althoughthe triangle with Miriam Hopkins and Joel McCrae is from whole cloth.Col. Marcus Cobb (Frank Craven) is based on James King of William(although King of William was never reduced to such stunningsuperficiality as Cobb is for nearly a year). Robinson's grip on thewhole of San Francisco is fictitious (Cora never had that much power).The leadership of the Vigilantes (Harry Carey) reflect the moral centerof the Vigilantes movement that was unquestioned in American Historybooks of the 1935. It is a good film, with fine performances by Robinson, Hopkins, Craven,Brian Donleavy (who's physical appearance makes him look like thecorrupt contemporary Mayor of New York City, Fernando Wood), andBrennan. McCrae is sturdy and acts well, but his role seems terriblynaive. It is fun trying to locate David Niven as a drunken cockneysailor tossed out of Robinson's saloon (he recalled it fondly in THEMOON'S A BALLOON). Robinson's recollections of the film were downers inALL MY YESTERDAYS: he had political disputes about the on-coming WorldWar II with isolationists Hopkins, Carey, Craven, Brennan, McCrae, anddirector Hawks. Hopkins kept trying to upstage him and the others,until he let her have it before the cast and crew (who applauded himfor it). He also felt the end was a let down. Quietly told by Carey andhis associates it is time to accompany them to his neck stretchingparty, he quietly joins them, as though they have come to take him todeliver a political speech! Still the film merits an "8" out of "10".