Lady from Louisiana
Directed by Bernard Vorhaus
Action / Drama / Romance
aka “Lady from New Orleans", “Lady of New Orleans"
John Wayne as John Reynolds
Ona Munson as Julie Mirbeau
Ray Middleton as Blackburn Williams
Henry Stephenson as General Anatole Mirbeau
Helen Westley as Blanche Brunot
Jack Pennick as Cuffy Brown
Dorothy Dandridge as Felice
Shimen Ruskin as Gaston
Jacqueline Dalya as Pearl
Paul Scardon as Judge Wilson
Major James H. MacNamara as Senator Cassidy
Attorney John Reynolds is on his way south on a riverboat to New Orleans in the 1890s. John has been hired by his Aunt Blanche to investigate and hopefully shut down a lottery that is suspected to have criminal dealings. Along the way John meets and falls for beautiful southern belle Julie Mirbeau. The situation becomes cloudy at the docks when they arrive in New Orleans and John discovers that Julie is the daughter of General Anatole Mirbeau, the man who founded and runs the lottery. Shortly after arriving one of John’s new friends, restaurateur Gaston, wins the lottery, and upon a cursory examination, the lottery appears to be legit. However, when Gaston disappears in the seedy area of town, John begins to dig deeper. Julie and her father try to convince John that the proceeds from the lottery go towards charities and public works, but when John announces that he feels the lottery may be connected with Gaston’s murder, Julie breaks off her relationship with him. Meanwhile, Anatole’s right hand man Blackie is indeed the corrupt force behind the dark side of the lottery and he is fired by Anatole when Anatole discovers the tip of the iceberg of all the illegal activities Blackie has been behind. Determined to keep the lottery under his control, Blackie hires a thug named Cuffy Brown to kill Anatole at a demonstration by anti-lottery activists. John visits Julie to pay his respects, but she remains indignant, accusing him of indirectly causing her father’s death. A break for John comes when he and Blanche get their hands on documents that prove that the lottery has been bribing officials. Julie finds out that John broke into the office and stole the documents, and is going to warn her new boyfriend Blackie, when she finds him in the arms of another woman. John and the police arrive shortly after to confront Blackie, and Julie sees the extent of Blackie’s illegal activities. However, as Blackie is being brought to trial, a freak storm destroys one of the levies and the courthouse is flooded. Blackie uses the confusion to escape, and John chases after him, eventually ending in a dramatic showdown on a steamboat caught in the flood.
Notes: Republic pictures was trying to break out of their B-movie reputation with this film, spending large amounts providing the costumes, sets and special effects that were used in Lady from Louisiana.
Ona Munson was best known for her role as Belle Watling in Gone with the Wind.
Director Bernard Vorhaus eventually was blacklisted in 1951 at a House Un-American Activities Committee hearing. John Wayne was known throughout Hollywood for his support of the HUAC at the time and made movies that helped popularize the American fight against communism. One example is Big Jim McLain, about a HUAC operative who uncovers a communist plot in Hawaii.