John Wayne in Flame of the Barbary Coast (1945)

The Earth Moves for Duke and Dvorak

Montana cowboy Duke Fergus (John Wayne) arrives in San Francisco in search of Tito Morell (Joseph Schildkraut), the owner of The Eldorado, as he is there to collect on a debt he has a bought from one of his ranch hands. But after collecting what he is owed and having become smitten with showgirl Flaxen Tarry (Ann Dvorak) Duke loses it all to the deceptive Morell. Determined to get his own back Duke heads off to learn how to play cards and then returns with all his money to not only get his revenge on Morell but open his own gambling house. But whilst revenge is Duke's motivation so is Flaxen who he has become smitten with putting him up against Morell again who wants her all to himself.

Well "Flame of the Barbary Coast" is certainly a good looking and entertaining movie it is the sort of movie which as a movie reviewer leaves me kind of at a loss as to what to say. Part of that is because of what this movie builds up to and whilst I won't say there are many a review of "Flame of the Barbary Coast" which basically reveals all. But I am also at a loss for words because "Flame of the Barbary Coast" is such a straight forwards movie. As such we have Duke not only trying to teach the crooked gambling hall owners of the Barbary Coast a lesson but also finding him rivalling Morell for the attractive and playful Flaxen who whilst flirtatious towards Duke is in love with Morell.

Ann Dvorak in Flame of the Barbary Coast (1945)

The thing is that whilst "Flame of the Barbary Coast" is a straight forward movie it is still a little charmer firstly because of the simple musical element with a handful of pleasant show numbers which crop up once in a while. But secondly you have the acting and John Wayne is in full control from start to finish with a real glint in his eye be it when Duke gets one up on Morell or whenever he is around Flaxen. That brings me to Ann Dvorak who is not only gorgeous in this but she makes Flaxen this mix of flirtatious playfulness but also trouble especially when it comes to playing Morell and Duke off against each other.

What this all boils down to is that "Flame of the Barbary Coast" is certainly an entertaining movie and also a good looking one with great sets and nice cinematography. But it is a straight forward movie with the exception of one major event it plays out pretty much in a routine manner.