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Lady From Louisiana

Lady From Louisiana

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Lady From Louisiana  Northern lawyer John Reynolds travels to New Orleans to try and clean up the local crime syndicate based around a lottery. Although he meets Julie Mirbeau and they are attracted to each other, the fact that her father heads the lottery means they end up on opposite sides. When her father is killed, Julie becomes more and more involved in the shady activities and in blocking Reynolds’ attempts at prosecution.

Yankee and southern Belle fight over Louisiana lotteries.

Lady From Louisiana  The plot of this ‘southern’ is concerned about 2 topics, which are sometimes intertwined. There’s the on again-off again romance between Yankee lawyer John Reynolds(John Wayne) and southern belle Julie Mirbeau(Ona Munson), which began while they were traveling to New Orleans on a steamer. Then, there’s the fuss about the Louisiana Lottery Company siphoning off too much of the proceeds for members and not enough for the charities and government projects it supposedly supports. Initially, the Company is headed by Julie’s father, played by Henry Stephenson. But he is murdered, supposedly by the anti-lottery faction, of which Wayne is one. Blackie, the recently disgraced former second in command, complements and competes with Julie for leadership of the Company. Blackie attempts to woo Julie, since she has disowned Wayne, who is generally blamed for her father’s death. The romance between Wayne and Julie follows a common pattern in films of this era: They serendipitously meet and it’s love at first sight. But later, they find they are on opposite sides of a power struggle or other type of feud. The lady doesn’t want to have any more to do with the man. Furthermore, she takes up with the chief villain, whom she may see as a good guy. Further events prove that the villain is a villain. She changes her allegiance back to the hero, who bests the villain in a fight.

Thus, Blackie much increased the criminal element in The Company after Julie’s father was murdered. Often, the person was pressured to pay protection money in the form of buying lottery tickets. If they didn’t, dire consequences were expected. Lottery winners were sometimes murdered and their winnings stolen. But Wayne found that victims usually clamed up in court, thus it was difficult to get a conviction. Besides, the judge was a crooked member of The Company. It turns out that the villains are punished not by the court system, but by an ‘Act of God’: a violent storm that wrecks the court house, breaks through the levee, flooding much of the city. Blackie gets his due during the flood, curtesy of Wayne.

Where else have I heard the name Blackie used in reference to a Caucasian? Ah. Clark Gable, in “San Francisco”, where he’s sort of a villain. Another commonality with that film is the destruction of evil people by an ‘Act of God’: an earthquake, and subsequent fire in that case.

Henry Stephenson, playing Julia’s father, typically played a grandfather-like character in quite a few films of the ’30s and ’40s. Here, he knew there was some corruption going on in the Lottery business, but tried to minimize its visibility, in contrast to Blackie’s strong arm tactics. Tall, handsome, Ray Middleton, who played Blackie, actually had a background strong in musical theater. Helen Wesley, playing Wayne’s aunt, was quite a colorful and combative character in her anti-lottery campaign. She would die only a year later. Lady From Louisiana

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