skip navigation
Bad Men of Missouri

Bad Men of Missouri(1941)

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)


powered by AFI

teaser Bad Men of Missouri (1941)

The success of Fox's Jesse James (1939) led to a spate of outlaw stories set in the aftermath of the Civil War in Kansas and Missouri. When the Daltons Rode (1940) is one example of Hollywood populism -- violent thieves from history are given the Robin Hood treatment. 1941's Bad Men of Missouri makes the ex-Quantrill guerillas The Younger Brothers into sympathetic figures, goaded into outlawry by evil carpetbaggers. After their raids, the boys use their loot to help farmers pay the Yankee taxes. Warner contract players Wayne Morris, Dennis Morgan and Arthur Kennedy are the three Youngers, and the handsome Morgan sings a song for good measure. Talk about being in an actor's rut -- Wayne Morris plays Bob Younger in this film, and returned years later to play his brother Cole in the Warner Bros. The Younger Brothers (1949). Jane Wyman is relegated to the sideline, providing a romantic angle. Although the boys pull off daring robberies, much of the action sees them forced into violence by the cheerfully evil carpetbaggers played by Victor Jory and Howard Da Silva. Alan Baxter makes an appearance as Jesse James. Action scenes include several fistfights and a scene of robbers leaping onto the top of a moving train. Ignoring most of the Younger gang's outright murders, the tale sees them captured in Minnesota, leaving girlfriend Jane Wyman to plead for leniency. Critics in 1941 felt that the movie was a historical whitewash with anti-government sentiments, and complained about the lack of realism: the hero-bandits repeatedly escape unharmed through hails of bullets. Perhaps the most realistic film about the notorious historical Younger Brothers is Philip Kaufman's The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972) starring Cliff Robertson. It doesn't pretend that there is honor among thieves.

By Glenn Erickson

back to top