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Mexicali Rose
Not Rated
60 minutes

Lost to the sands of time save for a few hardy film buffs, this film merits mention solely because it features Barbara Stanwyck in her first starring role—and already displaying the hand-on-hip insouciance that made her a star for more than fifty years. Set entirely in a saloon along the Mexican border, the melodrama centers on her romance with saloon/casino owner Sam Hardy, who’s understandably annoyed when she starts stepping out on him. He shows her the door, and she retaliates by marrying his kid brother (whiny-voiced William Janney). Needless to say, all does not end happily ever after. Like most early talkies, it’s basically a static gabfest; one could not be blamed for thinking it was based on a play. In fact, it’s an original screenplay by Norman Houston with fine direction from Erle C. Kenton, who gets excellent performances from his cast. The critics certainly took notice of Stanwyck, as did Frank Capra, who would soon after showcase her in four Columbia pictures that made her the studio’s first real female star.

Erle C. Kenton
Story and Dialogue by Gladys Lehman; Continuity and Dialogue by Norman Houston
Country USA
Language English