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With: James Stewart, Joanne Dru, Gilbert Roland, Dan Duryea, Jay C. Flippen, Marcia Henderson, Robert Monet, Antonio Moreno, Harry Morgan, Fortunio Bonanova, Mario Siletti
Written by: Gil Doud, John Michael Hayes
Directed by: Anthony Mann
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 103
Date: 05/21/1953

Thunder Bay (1953)

3 Stars (out of 4)

To the Victor Goes the Oil

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Action extraordinaire director Anthony Mann and the great James Stewart made eight films together, five of them among the greatest Westerns ever made. This one, Thunder Bay, is sort of an odd one out. It's not Mann or Stewart's fault, really. It's just that the material was never very dynamic to begin with, and today it looks positively precious and naïve. Stewart plays Steve, an entrepreneur with an idea to build the first off-shore oil rigs in Louisiana. He comes along with the snaky, cool-cat Gambi (Dan Duryea), and after a meeting with an understanding, forward-thinking investor (Jay C. Flippen), they begin to work. But the locals, who make a living catching shrimp, do not like the interlopers, especially when Gambi seduces Francesca (Marcia Henderson). Her older sister Stella (Joanne Dru), the flamboyant fisherman Teche Bossier (Gilbert Roland), and others try to make life difficult, while Steve struggles to find oil before the deadline he's been given. There are many speeches about how the oil is going to make life better for the shrimpers, but it's difficult these days not to be on their side. Nonetheless, Mann stages some thrilling sequences, notably a pounding storm, and while Thunder Bay is no masterpiece, it's still worth a look. Kino Lorber's Blu-ray release includes a commentary track by Toby Roan, and trailers.

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