Angel and the Badman (1947)

“Only a man who carries a gun ever needs one.”

Angel and the Badman Poster

A wounded gunslinger (John Wayne) being tracked by a lawman (Harry Carey) falls in love with a naive but sincere young Quaker woman (Gail Russell) who hopes to marry and reform him.


Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, this “most enjoyable” “high-class ‘B’ western” is “truly delightful and believable”, and certainly “anticipated Peter Weir’s Witness.” Wayne and Russell — “who were lovers off screen as well” — are a “sweet couple”, and “there are some wonderful moments when Wayne [Quirt] looks at Russell [Penny] adoringly, and when Russell feels emotions building inside her as she looks at him”; indeed, they have genuine chemistry together, and both actors give excellent, sincere performances. The cinematography — with much location shooting in Arizona, including Monument Valley — is nicely done, and there are numerous touching and/or humorous scenes, such as when Wayne is stuck holding a baby at a Quaker gathering. The story-line is simple, but filled with genuine tension and many unanswered questions: Is Penny’s love for Quirt simply naive infatuation, or something deeper — and vice versa? Will Penny’s parents (Irene Rich and Stephen Grant) tolerate her love for a gunslinger? Will Quirt be able to evade both his sworn enemy (Bruce Cabot) and the lawman (Carey) determined to catch him? Can — and should — Quirt convince Penny that she’s better off with a steadfast Quaker suitor (Marshall Reed)? It’s a delight to watch and find out.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Gail Russell as Penny
    Angel and the Badman Russell
  • John Wayne as Quirt Evans
    Angel and the Badman Wayne
  • Archie Stout’s cinematography
    Angel and the Badman Cinematography
    Angel and the Badman Cinematography2
  • Fine use of location shooting in Arizona
    Angel and the Badman Location
    Angel and the Badman Location2

Must See?
Yes, as a fine and charming western.



One Response to “Angel and the Badman (1947)”

  1. First viewing.

    A once-must, for its place in cinema history – and for its values.

    Like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, this movie (as I recall) was almost constantly shown on tv when I was a kid. I often recall seeing it listed for a screening. Unlike ‘TKAM’, though – which, it seems, I would watch just about any time it was on – I never saw it. I don’t know why, really. It’s not like I didn’t like westerns. But it’s probably true that I tended to watch fewer westerns at the time…and only later began a more regular diet of them.

    What I like in particular about the view here of the Quakers is that – compared with something like ‘Friendly Persuasion’ – the presentation of the faith seems (to me, anyway) a little more natural and less forced.

    I don’t know that it would become a particular favorite western for me. I mean, I’m glad I finally saw it – and there’s certainly much to enjoy in it. In a way, though, it’s a bit of a once-and-done type of movie. It doesn’t have the kind of richness that would lend itself to multiple viewings.

    That said…it does also contain some particularly tense scenes – like the one in which some men come looking for Quirt at the Quaker home. Quirt suddenly learns that the bullets have been removed from his gun and he has to keep the men at bay while acting like his gun is loaded.

    Fave bit: Quirt’s friend Randy starts to leaf through the Bible that was given to Quirt as a gift – he becomes wrapped-up in it and happens to think it’s some ‘mighty fine’ and action-packed storytelling.

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