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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag in Cooper led espionage Oater., 8 Mar 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Depending on what reviews you read of course, Springfield Rifle is either a slowly paced pot boiler or an action packed suspenser. Such is the diversity of this form of the arts, you could easily favour one or the other and nobody could really argue with you. The truth is that André De Toth's film wants to be both, but with an almost dizzying plot and a misleading title, it winds up being an over ambitious picture that doesn't quite pay off on its promise.

Gary Cooper stars as Maj. Alex 'Lex' Kearney who gets himself cashiered from the army on a charge of cowardice in order to go undercover to break up a Confederate ring who are stealing horses during the civil war. But Kearney is not the only spy at work so his mission is a touch more complicated than at first thought. Not only that but he is so deep undercover his wife and son believe him to be a real coward and have therefore ostracised him. Oh and the new and war changing Springfield Rifle will have a part to play in the shenanigans.

Released in the same year as Cooper was wowing genre fans in High Noon, De Toth's movie does actually feel like an attempt to cash in on the big mans star appeal. However, it should be noted that executives at Warner Brothers didn't want Cooper to play the role, fearing his wholesome image just wouldn't suit a role involving cowardice and double dallying for both parties in the war. De Toth stood by his guns and was rewarded, to my mind, by a film saving performance from Cooper. Frank Davis and Charles Marquis Warren adapt from a story written by Sloan Nibley (who is noted in the genre for his numerous work on Roy Rogers scripts), Max Steiner provides the score and Edwin B. DuPar photographs out of Lone Pine and Warner Ranch in California. The film is not shot in Technicolor {as stated by some reviewers}, it was shot in the Warnercolor process. With the result somewhat pleasing on the eye, notably the uniforms of the soldiers and the flame engulfed sequence towards the finale.

The support cast are fair to middling. Lon Chaney Jr. is sadly a shadow of his former self, tho a good old dust up with Cooper raises the temperature. Phyllis Thaxter, David Brian, Paul Kelly & Philip Carey file in and say their lines. While Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams & Alan Hale Jr. deserved more screen time than they actually got. With surprises in the plot and Cooper adding some quality, Springfield Rifle is entertaining enough. But ultimately it ends up being a modest genre piece that really should have been much much better. 6/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag in Cooper led espionage Oater., 8 Mar 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Springfield Rifle (La mission du commandant lex) French import, plays in English (DVD)
Depending on what reviews you read of course, Springfield Rifle is either a slowly paced pot boiler or an action packed suspenser. Such is the diversity of this form of the arts, you could easily favour one or the other and nobody could really argue with you. The truth is that André De Toth's film wants to be both, but with an almost dizzying plot and a misleading title, it winds up being an over ambitious picture that doesn't quite pay off on its promise.

Gary Cooper stars as Maj. Alex 'Lex' Kearney who gets himself cashiered from the army on a charge of cowardice in order to go undercover to break up a Confederate ring who are stealing horses during the civil war. But Kearney is not the only spy at work so his mission is a touch more complicated than at first thought. Not only that but he is so deep undercover his wife and son believe him to be a real coward and have therefore ostracised him. Oh and the new and war changing Springfield Rifle will have a part to play in the shenanigans.

Released in the same year as Cooper was wowing genre fans in High Noon, De Toth's movie does actually feel like an attempt to cash in on the big mans star appeal. However, it should be noted that executives at Warner Brothers didn't want Cooper to play the role, fearing his wholesome image just wouldn't suit a role involving cowardice and double dallying for both parties in the war. De Toth stood by his guns and was rewarded, to my mind, by a film saving performance from Cooper. Frank Davis and Charles Marquis Warren adapt from a story written by Sloan Nibley (who is noted in the genre for his numerous work on Roy Rogers scripts), Max Steiner provides the score and Edwin B. DuPar photographs out of Lone Pine and Warner Ranch in California. The film is not shot in Technicolor {as stated by some reviewers}, it was shot in the Warnercolor process. With the result somewhat pleasing on the eye, notably the uniforms of the soldiers and the flame engulfed sequence towards the finale.

The support cast are fair to middling. Lon Chaney Jr. is sadly a shadow of his former self, tho a good old dust up with Cooper raises the temperature. Phyllis Thaxter, David Brian, Paul Kelly & Philip Carey file in and say their lines. While Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams & Alan Hale Jr. deserved more screen time than they actually got. With surprises in the plot and Cooper adding some quality, Springfield Rifle is entertaining enough. But ultimately it ends up being a modest genre piece that really should have been much much better. 6/10
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