Stand Up and Fight (1939)

Passed   |    |  Drama, History, Romance


Stand Up and Fight (1939) Poster

It starts in 1844 in Maryland, where Robert Taylor, plantation owner with slaves, is forced by debts to sell his estate and his people. Then he leaves for Cumberland, looking for a job (... See full summary »


6.4/10
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12 September 2004 | mik-19
8
| Remarkable subtlety
Cynical Southern gentleman Blake Cantrell (Robert Taylor) is forced to sell his plantation and seek employment with a stagecoach company run by Captain Starkey (Wallace Beery) and owned by lovely Susan (Florence Rice). But is the company actually illegally transporting slaves? And can a leopard, the cavalier Blake, actually change its spots?

I didn't expect much from this movie, and was thoroughly and positively surprised by the sharp writing and ebullient acting, and contrary to many A-movies of its day its aim is no way an aesthetic 'arty' one. Made in 1939, this movie addresses all sorts of controversial issues, and they have a way of taking you by surprise along the way. The movie is really about abolitionism and treats its subject with remarkable subtlety, although why and how the lynch-mob, the one that we encounter in the last third of the film, goes after white man Starkey is never made quite clear. Cantrell's gradual moral reform is well-explained and plausible, not least because of Taylor's warmth and humanity in the part. Yes, he is handsome, but here it is almost besides the point. Wallace Beery has a field day with the larger-than-life captain, very cleverly balancing on the edge of buffoonery but with plenty of edge and ambiguity.

See it, it makes a deep impression.

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