Flame of Barbary Coast (1945)

Flame Of Barbary Coast (1945)Flame of Barbary Coast is a western released in 1945 by Republic Pictures. The film stars John Wayne as Duke Fergus, a cowboy from Montana who moves to San Francisco in order to learn how to gamble. Critics applauded the performances of the leading actors in the film, though Flame of Barbary Coast is generally not regarded as a classic. The film features plenty of gambling scenes that will be attractive to card players.

Flame of Barbary Coast used a couple of hyperbolic taglines in its promotion: "Packed with the thrill and spectacle of the west’s most exciting era!" and "The brawling, colorful story of the queen of hearts and the ace of gamblers… with a shock climax such as the screen has never known!"

Cast and Crew of Flame of Barbary Coast

Flame of Barbary Coast was directed and produced by Joseph Kane. The original screenplay for the film was written by Borden Chase. Richard L. Van Enger edited the picture, while Robert DeGrasse handled the cinematographic work. Morton Scott served as music director for Flame of Barbary Coast.

Flame of Barbary Coast included many stars of the time, such as John Wayne playing Duke Fergus, Ann Dvorak playing Ann "Flaxen" Tarry, and Joseph Schildkraut playing Boss Tito Morell. The supporting cast also included William Frawley, Virginia Grey, Russell Hicks, Jack Norton, Paul Fix, Marc Lawrence, Butterfly McQueen, Rex Lease, and Hank Bell.

Plot Synopsis of Flame of Barbary Coast

Flame of Barbary Coast begins when Duke Fergus, a Montana cowboy, arrives in San Francisco looking for restitution for a horse sale from Tito Morell, a wealthy gambling room owner. Soon, Duke meets with Ann "Flaxen" Tarry, a woman who he doesn’t realize is Tito’s girlfriend and a performer at Tito’s gambling house Eldorado, in the center of the Barbary Coast district.

When Duke arrives at the Eldorado, Tito informs him that the horse was already paid for in full, and that he can’t be held responsible for Duke’s acquaintance losing the money in a gambling deal. Duke accuses Tito and the gambling house of being crooked, and Tito pays Duke the proper amount of cash. Flaxen gives Duke a tour of the casino, making sure that he wins all of his bets. Several of the other customers complain to Tito about losing, and Tito sets up a fixed card game where Duke loses his newfound earnings.

Duke leaves San Francisco and returns home, embarrassed by his losses. As he’s continuing his cattle drive, he finally realizes that Flaxen and Tito conned him. Duke sells his herd of cattle, and pays a visit to Smooth "Wolf" Wylie, a cardsharp and old friend. Wolf instructs Duke in the ways of card playing, and teaches him how to look out for crooked players and beat Tito’s system.

Duke heads back to the Barbary Coast, bringing all of his cash. Duke and Wolf challenge Tito. Eventually, Duke wins enough cash to start building his own house on the beach, along with a new gambling house named the Silver Dollar. Cyrus Danver, the editor for the local newspaper, warns Duke that the coming elections could snuff out the rise of additional gambling houses in the area.

Duke tries to outbid Tito for Flaxen’s contract, and she uses the offer as leverage to increase her benefits at Tito’s gambling house. Tito, however, refuses to give her any additional compensation. After an argument, Flaxen leaves the Eldorado and decides to sing at Duke’s new gambling room, the Silver Dollar. Duke holds a meeting with other owners of gambling establishments, and suggests that they ban together and exercise fair gambling policies without any cheating or crooked play.

Finally, the Silver Dollar opens. That evening, Tito shows up and tries to win Flaxen back while threatening Duke, but Wylie overpowers him. Flaxen sings her show, and tragically, a massive earthquake strikes the city and destroys the Silver Dollar, along with the majority of the Barbary Coast. Flaxen is knocked from the stage by the shockwave, and Duke carries her to safety. Flaxen is paralyzed from the fall. Tito pays her a visit, but he’s less concerned with her health than with the reconstruction of the Barbary Coast.

Tito decides to back a questionable candidate in the incoming elections, and Duke is contacted by city business representatives looking for his support. Duke is saddened by his losses, and plans to head back to Montana. However, Tito tells Duke that he’d like to incorporate all of the gambling houses and promote crooked play. This angers Duke, and he decides to stay and fight for his principles of fair play.

Meanwhile, Flaxen has been outraged by Tito’s lack of caring, and rebuilds her strength in order to walk. She arrives at the Eldorado on election night. Tito, who is waiting for illegal tally sheets that will allow him to rig the election, is amazed by Flaxen and offers her a job. She refuses. Duke arrives with election officials, and they seize the tally sheets. Flaxen and Duke leave for Montana.

Additional Information about Flame of Barbary Coast

Despite the mediocre critical reception of Flame of Barbary Coast, it was nominated for two Oscars: one for Best Music in the Scoring of a Comedy or Drama, and one for Best Sound Recording.

Flame of Barbary Coast premiered in New York City on May 26, 1945, and has a running length of 91 minutes.

The film currently has a rating of 6.1 out of 10 on the Internet Movie Database. Most users agree that the film was essentially a star vehicle for John Wayne, though the film does include plenty of gambling scenes that should be appealing to card players.