Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Overlooked Films -- The Iron Mistress

Who needs historical accuracy when you have Alan Ladd and Virginia Mayo in blazing Technicolor? Not me, and certainly not me when I was eleven years old. I was brought up on tales of Bowie at the Alamo, and he was a hero in my mind. He's a hero in this movie, too, and the unsavory aspects of his character are completely absent. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Bowie (Ladd) goes to New Orleans to sell some lumber. He meets and falls for Virginia Mayo (as who wouldn't?), the aristocratic Judalon de Bornay. She rejects him because he's a country bumpkin with no money. So he makes a lot of money and becomes refined and rich. Along the way he makes enemies and has his famous knife forged for protection. The scene where the blacksmith makes the knife was one of two that impressed me most as a kid. The blacksmith has a piece of a meteorite that he keeps hidden away, and he uses a bit of that special iron in the blade of the knife -- "a piece of heaven. . . or hell." Even with riches and a knife, however, Bowie can't win Judalon's love.

There are a couple of good knife fights in the movie, and the other scene that impressed me is the climactic one where Bowie and another man enter a completely darkened room to fight it out with their knives. An occasional flash of lightning gives us a glimpse of the proceedings. I acted this scene out in my back yard more than once. Great stuff (the scene, not the way I acted it out).

You know those movies that you see and say, "They don't make 'em like that anymore"? Well, this is one of those. Probably too corny for today's audiences, but just right for a geezer like me.


Bud said...

Amazing! I had forgotten about this movie, but I am reminded how much I liked this when I first saw it at 10 years old. I don't know if it was the knife or the stars, but the movie made a big impression on me at the time.

Fred Blosser said...

Even better, when James Black makes the "bit of heaven ... or hell" remark, the background music swells to full, foreboding symphonic mode. Great movie.