A Southern Yankee

  • 1948
  • 1 HR 30 MIN
  • NR

A SOUTHERN YANKEE's chief assets are its star, Red Skelton, and the unheralded contributions of silent comedy genius Buster Keaton. Skelton plays Aubrey Filmore, a not-so-bright St. Louis bellboy during the Civil War who ends up becoming a spy for Union forces when an infamous Confederate agent, "The Gray Spider," is captured. Filmore fills in for the Southerner...read more

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A SOUTHERN YANKEE's chief assets are its star, Red Skelton, and the unheralded contributions of silent comedy genius Buster Keaton. Skelton plays Aubrey Filmore, a not-so-bright St. Louis bellboy during the Civil War who ends up becoming a spy for Union forces when an infamous Confederate

agent, "The Gray Spider," is captured. Filmore fills in for the Southerner and is sent behind enemy lines to obtain important information. While squirreling about below the Mason-Dixon line, he meets Southern belle Sallyann Weatharby (Arlene Dahl) and tries to romance her without blowing his

cover. The film has fine moments, chiefly because of the genuine earnestness Skelton gives to his character. Keaton had seen this quality in Skelton's previous work and was convinced it would shine in the right material. Then working as a gag man for MGM, Keaton went to studio chief Louis Mayer

and made an offer to work exclusively with Skelton. The offer was declined, but Keaton was assigned as gag man for A SOUTHERN YANKEE and came up with the film's funniest moments. Most memorable is a sequence in which Filmore, walking a direct line between fighting Yankee and Confederate forces,

wears a uniform that is half-blue and half-gray, with the appropriate side facing each army.

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