The ABC's of Film Noir
The ABC's of Film Noir

Angel and the Badman (1947) Classic Movie Review 74

 Angel and the Badman (1947) John Wayne and Gail Russell

Angel and the Badman (1947) John Wayne and Gail Russell

Pony walks as soft as you do

Welcome to today’s show, Angel and the Badman (1947), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review.

Today’s movie is Angel and the Badman (1947) staring John Wayne, Gail Russell, and Harry Carey.


I have “known” about this movie for a long time but I honestly don’t think I had ever watched it before. Perhaps I did on one of those lazy Sunday afternoon watching westerns with Dad. I am glad I took the time to watch Angel and the Badman (1947). The story was not the most original but it had enough turns to make it work. I enjoyed the role that Harry Carry played and the backstory of the beautiful Gail Russell was as fascinating as it was tragic. Even John Wayne’s character had depth. The bad guys, led by Wayne’s drinking buddy Bruce Cabot, were realistic. This movie should be added to your’ must see list.

John Wayne played the role of Quirt Evans, the badman. Quirt is an odd name so I looked it up. Apparently, it is “a forked type of stock whip which usually has two falls at the end.” Now it makes sense.

Bruce Cabot played Laredo Stevens. Everyone in this movie had great names. Laredo was a real bad guy and he was Quirt Evans sworn enemy.

Hank Worden had a tiny part as a townsperson. It was the voice that made me notice him.

Paul Fix was uncredited as Mouse Marr. We discussed Fix in Episode 15 – The Undefeated (1969).

Pat Flaherty played one of the Baker Brother that Quirt Evans picked a fight with. We went over Flaherty in Episode 40 – Key Largo (1948).

Yakima Cannut handled the stunts for this movie and there were some pretty amazing buckboard stunts.

Harry Carey played the role of Marshal Wistful McClintock. Harry Carey was born in New York City in 1878. I’m seeing a trend. But wait, what. One of the greatest cowboy actors of all time grew up in New York City. Wow. I’m shaken to the core. After attending a military academy Carry turned down an appointment to West Point in favor of law school.

Following a boating accident and a bout with pneumonia Carry wrote a play. He spent three years touring and performing and did quite well. He lost everything when his next play bombed. In 1911, he was introduced to legendary director D. W. Griffith. Carry went on to make many films with Griffith. Carry’s second or third wife, it’s not clear, was Olive Fuller Golden, who we know as Olive Carey from Episode 12 – Billy the Kid Meets Dracula (1966). These two were the parents of Harry Carey Jr. who was known as Dobe. Harry Carey Jr. was in the previously mentioned movie as well.

Olive introduced Carey to future director John Ford. Carey pushed Universal Studios head, Carl Laemmle, to let use Ford director. The partnership between Carey and Ford lasted until 1921 when the two had a falling out.

Carey was the most popular western star during the 1930s. In addition to acting, he would write and direct. Over time he slowly moved to character roles. He was nominated for an Oscar for a small role as the President of the Senate in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). I always liked him in that role because he had a look on his face like he knew something that everyone else didn’t.

Carey had 267 mostly movie credits from 1910 to 1948. So many of these are great I won’t even try to list all of them. A few of the highlights include The Three Godfathers (1916), The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936), and director Howard Hawks’ Red River (1948) where he was able to act with his son. The movie is great as John Wayne’s character is hate-crazy. Watch it immediately if you haven’t. Carey died in 1947 at the relatively young age of 69.

When I saw Gail Russell in this movie, I thought “she’s really pretty, I wonder why she didn’t make more movies?” Sorry, I ask.

Gail Russell played, well the angel, Penelope Worth. Russell was born in Chicago in 1924. Her family moved to California when she was 14. As soon as she graduated she was signed with Paramount. They figured she was beautiful and they could teach her to act. She made her first movie, Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour (1943) when she was 19. The next year she was in The Uninvited (1944) with Ray Milland. It was during this time that she started using booze to calm herself during shooting. It is ironic that she was working with Ray Miland, who is famous for making The Lost Weekend (1945) the next year.

Gail’s third film was Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1944). The film did quite well. She was in Salty O’Rourke (1945), a gamblers/horse racing tail. She did pretty well. This was followed by The Unseen (1945) a haunted house story. Gail was cast in Our Hearts Were Growing Up (1946) a poorly made sequel to Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1944) and it was a flop.

She was in Calcutta (1947) with Alan Ladd and got her career going again. This gets us to the point where she was cast in Angel and the Badman (1947) with John Wayne, Harry Carey, and Bruce Cabot. She rocked it. She had a string of fairly successful films such as Variety Girl (1947), Wake of the Red Witch (1948) again with John Wayne, Song of India (1949), El Paso (1949), and Captain China (1950).

In 1949, Gail married up and coming star Guy Madison.  You may remember the ruggedly handsome Guy Madison from Episode 60 – The Command (1954). If they had children they would be beautiful.

Following The Lawless (1950) Paramount dropped Gail’s contract because of her drinking and the associated problems. She on made one movie in 1951, Air Cadet (1951). She did not make any movies for five years and during that time she and Madison divorced

Gail returned for Seven Men from Now (1956), The Tattered Dress (1957), and No Place to Land (1958).

By 1961, Gail was really drinking heavily. The Silent Call (1961) was her last film. Sadly she died on August 26, 1961, at the young age of 36. The cause of death was liver damage from long-term alcohol abuse and malnutrition[1].


The movie begins with a man in a gunfight and then fleeing on horseback. The scenery he is riding through is wide open and beautiful. It looks like the beginning of any John Ford western but he didn’t direct this one.

Eventually, the man Quirt Evans (John Wayne) falls from his horse near Thomas Worth (John Halloran) and his lovely daughter Penelope Worth (Gail Russell). Thomas catches Quirt’s horse and sees that the man is wounded. Quirt is ready to fight but the man wants to take him to his house to heal. Quirt demands to be taken to the telegraph operator first.

Thomas and Penelope drive the wounded Quirt into town. Quirt and Penelope meet the telegraph operator Bradley (Olin Howland) at the door. He wants to close but Quirt pushes ahead. When Bradley finds out that the man is Quirt Evans he changes his tune to a right accommodating fellow. Quirt passes out into Penelope’s arms as the telegram is sent.

Penelope and her father take Quirt to their home and send word to the doctor to come quickly. When Dr. Mangram (Tom Powers) he pumps Quirt full of laudanum, an alcohol, and morphine mixture. However, Quirt keeps flipping around until Thomas figures that he wants his gun. Thomas empties the gun and places in his hand. Quirt immediately goes quite. The doctor takes the bullet out and patches him up.

Dr. Mangram tells the family they should get Quirt out of their house as quickly as possible. But they refuse because they are Quakers and believe good can be found in anyone and it is their duty to care for others.

Downstairs, Penelope asks her mother (Irene Rich) about love and how her parents met. Mama sees the warning signs. Penelope watches over Quirt for two days while he is basically in a coma. When he wakes he grabs the empty gun from under the pillow and points it right in Penelope’s face. While Quirt was out he talked about Lila, gambling, killing, other women, etc.

As Quirt heals he really starts enjoying the cooking of Mrs. Worth. He and Penelope draw closer and closer. Back in the town, the telegrapher Bradley is telling everyone that he is good friends with Quirt after their one meeting. This gets back to Laredo Stevens (Bruce Cabot) and two toadies. These are apparently the people who shot Quirt. They come to Bradley and he tells them about the Quaker family that is housing Quirt.

Audie, Penelope’s younger brother lets Quirt know the men are looking for him. When Quirt is aware of Laredo’s presence outside the house, he jumps out of bed and dresses and gets his gun but it has no bullets. Penelope throws the moves on Quirt and he kisses her. She is madly in love and doesn’t realize that both people don’t catch it at the same time. The mode changes when he realizes the gun is empty and the cartridges are outside the house at the same time Laredo and the toadies show up.  Quirt sits in the dark and pretends he is armed. Laredo buys the tract from Quirt for $5,000 cash and a note for $15,000. The bluff works.

Quirt gives some of the money to the family and he gets ready to leave. Penelope tries to go with him. She convinces him to stay.

Quirt is respectful of the Quaker family’s ways, he hangs his holstered gun outside, never allowing it inside. Exposure to the ways of the Quakers starts to change not only gunfighter Quirt but also the cynical, atheistic doctor who attends to him, grumbling all the time. Quirt helps the family in their farm work and is very grateful for their loving care. He begins to help around the farm although he comments that he left that kind of work many years ago. The family is pretty anti-gun and they work on Quirt about carrying it.

Quirt finds out that the water to the farm has been cut off by Carson (Paul Hurst), the farmer upriver. They Carson farmhands comment how mean Carson is and how he had a boil on his neck that is giving him great pain. Quirt goes to see Carson and when he finds out it is Quirt he can’t let the water flow fast enough. Quirt takes Carson to the Worth farm. The Quaker family is genuinely joyful to Carson. He is received with great love and Mrs. Worth even fixes his boil. Their kindness truly changes Carson and they become good friends. Quirt is the most shocked that the conversion is real.

Penelope invites Quirt to go to Sunday meeting. As they get the team ready a man slowly rides up on a horse and the music gets dark. However, the man is Marshal Wistful McClintock (Harry Carey). He asks Penelope if Quirt has left the farm and she verifies that he had not left. He tells the pair that when Quirt and Laredo fight he will be happy to hang the loser. The Marshal then ask Quirt why he went from law keeping with Wyatt Earp, became a cattle rancher, and then turn to crime. The Marshall also says that Walt Enis was shot by Laredo after a gambler grabbed his gun hand to slow his draw. Walt Enis was the man that raised and named Quirt.

On the way to a meeting, Quirt runs into one of his crime buddies Randy McCall (Lee Dixon). Randy goes along to the meeting to pitch a caper to Quirt.  At the meeting, a young blacksmith that is sweet on Penelope approaches Penelope and Quirt gets the green eyed monster.  Randy wants to rob Laredo of some cows they are stealing from someone else.

The Quakers give a monogrammed Bible to Quirt in thanks for getting the water back. Quirt is overwhelming and doesn’t think he is worthy. He tells the blacksmith to marry Penelope and he heads out with Randy.

Laredo and his gang of toadies murder some men and steal their cattle. Quirt, Randy, and their gang beat Laredo’s men with long wooden clubs. I guess they didn’t want Quirt to be a cold-blooded murder. Now selling cows that have been stolen by murder could lead to big trouble because it looks like you did the killing.

Randy and Quirt take their ill-gotten gain to a saloon and commences to drinking it up with saloon girl Lila (Joan Barton) and one of her friend. Quirt is not being any fun. He dumps his gambling winnings of Lila and then goes to pick a fight with the Baker brother. It turns into a free-for-all.

Eventually, he goes back to the Worth farm and wants to get back with Penelope. The vow their love and as they kiss the Marshal shows up and ask if Quirt if he has been traveling. He says he is patient and will hang Quirt in the end.

After some more time, Quirt is in the field. Marshall McClintock sneaks up on his stealthful horse. McClintock says he always figured he would use a new rope when he hanged him as a sign of respect. But he continues that Quirt doesn’t deserve a new rope because he is spoiling the goodness of Penelope. Quirt asks Penelope to marry him. She replies that he should go blackberry picking with her and her eyes make him leave his gun behind.

The pair goes out on the buckboard and fills it with blackberries. Suddenly their day is ruined when he sees Laredo and his toadies take a shot at the buckboard. Since he doesn’t have a gun Quirt has to try and outrun the gang on the buckboard. They is a crazy off-road buckboard chase. With jumps, hairpin turns, and steep descents. The team breaks away from the buckboard and it goes over a large cliff into the water. No CGI. Way to go Yakima.

Laredo watches for a minute and then leaves assuming they are dead. Quirt takes the unconscious Penelope to the house where the doctor is summoned. The doctor says there is not he can do except wait. Quirt, believing his true love is going to die, leaves her and goes to kill Laredo. The doctor tries to stop him. As soon as he leaves Penelope gets up and demands to be taken to town to stop Quirt. It’s a miracle.

When Quirt enters the town the people start clearing the streets. Quirt send Bradley down to tell Laredo that he is waiting for him in the street. Bradley who has been victimized by Laredo and Hondo walks up and bravely delivers the message. Laredo sends one of his gang to the door to check. Then Laredo drinks a big swig of whiskey. Bradley mocks Laredo about the drinking. Bradley tells them that the Marshal is out of town.

As Quirt goes down the street the Worth’s arrive in their OTHER wagon??  Penelope is trying to talk him out of the violence and he has his back turned when as Laredo and Hondo enter the street. Quirt has already handed his gun to Penelope. As he turns around the two men draw and are suddenly shot dead. Not it’s not Penelope. The Marshall has returned to stop the murder. He found out that Laredo and crew had robbed the stage so he figured after Quirt killed them he would hang Quirt. But since they tried to kill the unarmed man the Marshal had to intervene.

The Marshals says he is going to hang Quirt one day to which he replies that he is a farmer. When the Marshal finds Quirts gun in the street he tells Bradley that he is going to hang it in his office with a new rope.

Quirt, Penelope, and the other Worth’s ride away to the farm.

World-Famous Short Summary – Country girl lands worldly fellow

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Beware the moors

[1] Brettell, Andrew; King, Noel; Kennedy, Damien; Imwold, Denise (2005). Cut!: Hollywood Murders, Accidents, and Other Tragedies. Leonard, Warren Hsu; von Rohr, Heather. Barrons Educational Series. p. 251. ISBN 0-7641-5858-9.

Angel and the Badman (1947)

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