Entertainment Magazine

The Gambler from Natchez

Posted on the 03 April 2017 by Colin @Livius1
The Gambler from Natchez

I remember when I was first toying with the idea of starting up a blog on movies, almost ten years ago now, and wondering about whether or not I wanted to focus on certain genres or types of film. Back then lots of the big entertainment sites took what looked like a shotgun approach of covering as wide a range of material as possible and I felt the best way to break into this digital scribbling was to specialize. The question though was what to specialize in. I eventually settled on writing primarily (though by no means exclusively) on westerns of the classic era as that was, and remains, my favorite area. But I'd mulled over a focus on noir thrillers (which do figure fairly prominently as it stands) and even war movies for a while. Another genre that I recall giving some thought to was the swashbuckler/adventure picture yet I ultimately felt that had limited appeal. Anyway, al this leads me in a slightly circuitous way to The Gambler from Natchez (1954), something of a hybrid which blends together elements of both the swashbuckler and the western to produce a pretty enjoyable confection.

We follow Vance Colby (Dale Robertson) on his way back to New Orleans having served in the army of Texas under Sam Houston. The uniform tells us Colby is a soldier, and a run in with an ill-tempered card player reveals his familiarity with games of chance. The fact is he's the son of a renowned gambler and immensely proud of it too. His defense of the honor of his family leads to a fight (the first of many) and also the acquaintance of a kindred spirit in Antoine Barbee (Thomas Gomez) and his spitfire daughter Melanie (Debra Paget), two people who will figure prominently in events to follow. In brief, Colby is soon to learn that his father is dead, slain after being accused of cheating at a game of Blackjack. It looks very much as though the three men responsible, led by foppish but ruthless plantation owner André Rivage (Kevin McCarthy), had other reasons for the killing, and the rest of the tale is taken up with the unraveling of their scheme and the quest for justice.

The Gambler from Natchez

I've tagged The Gambler from Natchez as a western here even though, as I mentioned earlier, it's at best a hybrid form with arguably more of a swashbuckling flavor about it. However, I hope the presence of Robertson (and to some extent Paget) and a story from the pen of Gerald Drayson Adams makes my stretching of the definitions of the genre just about permissible, but I won't mind if anyone strongly objects. Director Henry Levin moves everything along at a nice even pace, never getting bogged down in unnecessary asides nor skimming over the important parts. Cameraman Lloyd Ahern ensures everything looks as sumptuous as possible while Levin get maximum impact from the action set pieces - a nocturnal chase through the reeds and a brace of duels, one with pistols and the other with rapiers.

Dale Robertson was very much a western star. Sure he worked in other genres but even a quick glance through his filmography shows how much it leans towards the Old West. A film like The Gambler from Natchez called for his customary ruggedness and also a degree of suavity that we don't always see. It's a balancing act which I reckon he pulls off perfectly successfully - the polish of the climactic duel with McCarthy standing as proof of that. And McCarthy was one of the most versatile actors to ply his trade in Hollywood, taking on heroic and villainous roles as lead or support with ease - he's likely most famous for his work in Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a film I hope to feature here sooner rather than later. Suffice to say he sneers with some style in this movie. Debra Paget's looks meant she was an ideal fit for westerns and exotica alike. She's very good as the fiery river denizen with a particularly determined streak and plays well off the cool Robertson. Thomas Gomez is another of those whose presence I always appreciate in a film. He could bring tragedy and pathos to his parts as in Force of Evil yet also possessed a lovely light touch and indulged in that latter quality here.

The Gambler from Natchez

The Gambler from Natchez has been released in the US as a MOD disc from Fox and had also available in Spain as a pressed DVD via Fox/Impulso for some time before that. I have that Spanish disc which presents the film in what I take is an open matte transfer - IMDb suggest the correct aspect ratio is 1.66:1 and that may or may not be right, I'd have thought anything up to 1.78:1 would be possible. That aside, the movie looks reasonably good, a bit of a clean up would bring out more detail and perhaps add a bit more pop to the colors, but it's quite watchable as it is.

This is a film which is hard to classify neatly in any one genre, drifting between the western, the swashbuckler and the adventure yarn. None of that is especially important of course, what does matter is how effectively all these aspects come together. In my opinion, it all gels and therefore works. The film has no pretensions of being anything other than a smooth piece of entertainment and goes about its business with style, excitement and wit. A good film.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Indulgeo Essentials Rose Gold Oil Vs TS Cosmetics 24K Gold Elixir

    Indulgeo Essentials Rose Gold Cosmetics Elixir

    | REVIEW COMPARISON Hello my lovely people out there !!! So after a long wait, I am finally sitting down to review and compare the two most famous gold... Read more

    6 hours, 5 minutes ago by   Khadija Beauty
    HAIR & BEAUTY, LIFESTYLE
  • Here We Go Again!

    Here Again!

    Despite a not-so-good garden last year (deer, bunnies, blight, and bugs,) I found myself at it again yesterday, setting out parsley and thyme, kale and... Read more

    11 hours, 47 minutes ago by   Vickilane
    CREATIVITY, PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Pain Perdu with Clotted Cream & Berries

    Pain Perdu with Clotted Cream Berries

    I really love simple things . . . time and time again, I am reminded that it is the simple things in life which truly are the best . . . Read more

    14 hours, 47 minutes ago by   Mariealicerayner
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Oscar Wilde - His Part In My Downfall

    Oscar Wilde Part Downfall

    If I've piqued your interest with the title of today's blog then we're off to a promising start. To be earnest with you (which is important, is it not? Read more

    18 hours, 8 minutes ago by   Ashleylister
    BOOKS, CREATIVITY, CULTURE, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Jobs in Sri Lanka – Guide for Work

    Jobs Lanka Guide Work

    Hotel Jobs in Sri Lanka Hotel jobs in Sri Lanka with Dubai City Company. We are now helping to get employment in Sri Lanka. We are now working with several... Read more

    The 21 April 2018 by   Dubai City Company
    CAREER
  • Beautiful Whirlwind

    Beautiful Whirlwind

    It's crazy how so much can change in a week. Last weekend I was busy shoveling two feet of snow during a rare spring blizzard while trying to get acquainted wit... Read more

    The 21 April 2018 by   Hikingwithheather
    OUTDOORS, TREK
  • World Borders: Muslims Only – The Fork in the Road Near Mecca, Saudi Arabia

    World Borders: Muslims Only Fork Road Near Mecca, Saudi Arabia

    This is a world border which is slightly different to those in my normal World Borders series, as whether you enter this border or not depends solely on one... Read more

    The 21 April 2018 by   Jsbdsl
    DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL

Magazines