The Gambler from Natchez


1h 28m 1954

Film Details

Also Known As
Baton Rouge
Genre
Action
Adventure
Western
Release Date
Aug 1954
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Aug 1954
Production Company
Panoramic Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1
Film Length
7,914ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

In the early 1800s, Vance Colby eagerly anticipates reuniting with his father, famed gambler Chip Colby, after a four-year separation. Vance, who was in Texas fighting with the Louisiana Volunteers, is accompanied on his boat voyage by his father's attorney, Pierre Bonet. Pierre is playing poker with an arrogant German named Gottwald, and when he continues to lose, Vance wins back his money with one hand. After they disembark, Gottwald learns that Vance's father is Chip, so named because of the diamond chip cufflinks he wears, and he accuses Vance of learning to cheat from his father. The two men engage in a fistfight, which Vance wins, but as he is turning away, Gottwald charges at him with a baling hook. Gottwald is knocked unconscious by frying pan wielded by feisty Melanie Barbee, the daughter of river boat captain Antoine Barbee, and although Vance expresses his gratitude, he is oblivious to Melly's admiration of him. As they are riding home, Pierre explains that Chip has important news, but their journey is interrupted when they meet the lovely Yvette Rivage, whose carriage has a lame horse. Vance swaps his horse for the lame one and accompanies Yvette home, and her initial disapproval of his forwardness melts as they laugh together in the rain. Upon reaching Yvette's estate, Araby, Vance meets her brother Andre and suitor, Claude St. Germaine. The aristocratic Rivage and Claude tell Vance about their new venture, a luxurious gambling boat called the Baton Rouge , but when they find out who he is, cast aspersions on his father's honesty. Yvette is horrifed to discover that Vance is a gambler, and to prevent him from seeing her again, Rivage sends his vicious foreman, Etienne, to kill him. Although Etienne succeeds in knifing Vance in the back, the gambler escapes in a small boat out to the river, where he is rescued by Melly and Barbee. The next morning, the recovering Vance teases Melly that if she saves his life one more time, she will gain full possession of him, while Barbee relates how Chip, once known as "the gambler from Natchez," saved him from losing his boat to a cardsharp many years earlier. That afternoon, Vance goes to Chip's hotel in New Orleans and is stunned to learn that his father is dead. He questions Police Commissioner Robert Renard, who tells him that, during a card game the previous evening, Chip was accused of cheating and killed by a Creole gentleman. Renard reveals that Rivage is the man who killed Chip, and Vance bitterly disparages his eagerness to believe a "gentleman." Vance also asserts that Andre's witnesses┬┐Claude, casino owner Nicolai Cadiz and waiter Rene Garonne┬┐could be lying, and Renard warns him that he cannot take revenge by dueling with his enemies unless he is publicly challenged. That night, Vance goes to Cadiz's casino, the St. Cyr, where he questions Garonne. He is interrupted by Cadiz, whom Vance accuses of aiding Rivage in killing his father. Vance then abducts Garonne, taking him to Barbee's boat, and there Garonne reveals that Andre had lost his share in the Baton Rouge while playing cards with Chip, and when he wagered and lost the deed to Araby, he grew so enraged that he shot Chip in cold blood. Cadiz then switched the cards to make it appear as if Chip had been cheating. Garonne adds that both Cadiz and Chip were partners with Rivage and Claude in the ownership of the Baton Rouge , and Vance realizes that this was his father's important news. Garonne agrees to make a sworn statement about the affair, but during the night, is kidnapped from Barbee's boat. In the morning, Melly goes to Vance's hotel to apprise him of the news, and also upbraids him for staying in the hotel in which Yvette keeps a suite. Vance, who had not known about Yvette's presence, confronts her with the knife used to wound him, and she reveals that it is Etienne's. When Yvette then questions Rivage and Claude, they lie, telling her that they were not involved with the attempt on Vance's life. In town, Rivage and Claude attempt to frame Vance for Garonne's murder by leaving his corpse in Vance's room, but Claude is still in the room when Vance and Renard enter. Vance pursues the fleeing Claude, who climbs to the roof and in his terror, falls to his death. Soon after, Barbee pretends to be a rich plantation owner and goes to the St. Cyr to gamble, and while he is at the table, Vance alerts gambling commissioner LeClerc that the dealer is using marked cards. LeClerc revokes Cadiz' gambling license, and the infuriated Cadiz challenges Vance to a duel. The next morning, Melly watches as Cadiz shoots first but misses. Vance offers not to shoot if Cadiz will sign a confession about Chip's death, but when Cadiz draws a derringer, Vance is forced to shoot him in self-defense. Fearful that Vance will kill him next, Rivage asks Yvette to invite him to the opening of the Baton Rouge , and without her knowledge, plans to kill him. Barbee and Melly accompany Vance to the event, and after Rivage tries but fails to compromise Vance by having Yvette found in his rooms, Rivage orders the captain to put Vance off the boat because he is a professional gambler. Vance responds that as co-owner of the boat, he is not subject to Rivage's orders, and offers to play a game of blackjack for total control of the Baton Rouge . Vance wins the game, after which Rivage wagers again, using Araby as his stake. When Vance wins, Rivage draws his sword and soon the pair are battling throughout the boat. Eventually Vance succeeds in killing Rivage, and later, returns the deed to Araby to Yvette. Although Yvette invites him to stay with her, Vance declines, telling her that his place is with Melly aboard the Baton Rouge .

Film Details

Also Known As
Baton Rouge
Genre
Action
Adventure
Western
Release Date
Aug 1954
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Aug 1954
Production Company
Panoramic Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1
Film Length
7,914ft (9 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Baton Rouge. Although a June 1953 Daily Variety news item announced that Twentieth Century-Fox had purchased an original story about "river pirates in the pre-Civil War era," entitled Baton Rouge and written by Hunt Stromberg, Jr. and James Gunn, it is unlikely that these writers contributed to The Gambler of Natchez. According to April 1954 Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety news items, Panoramic Productions was awarded the right to use the title The Gambler from Natchez by the MPAA board of directors, despite protests from Universal-International and independent producer Samuel Goldwyn. Universal asserted that the title was "harmfully similar" to that of its 1953 production Mississippi Gambler (see below), while Goldwyn claimed that there was a conflict with two of his registered titles, The Gambler and Natchez.
       Debra Paget, who was borrowed from Fox for The Gambler from Natchez, sings a brief snippet of the song "Monsieur Banjo" in the film. Hollywood Reporter news items include the following actors in the cast, although their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed: Roy Glenn, Henry Rowland, Parley Baer, Paul Marion, Paul Thompson, Cosmo Sardo, Paul Bradley and Phil Van Zandt. According to a January 15, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, the riverboat sequences were filmed on the Universal Studios backlot.