Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrew McLaglen|
|Produced by||Andrew McLaglen
James Lee Barrett (uncredited)
|Written by||James Lee Barrett (screenplay)
Davis Grubb (novel)
|Music by||Henry Vars|
|Cinematography||Harry Stradling Jr.|
|Edited by||David Bretherton
Robert L. Simpson
|Stanmore Productions, Penbar Productions|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||98 minutes|
Fools' Parade is a 1971 crime drama film directed by Andrew McLaglen and starring James Stewart, George Kennedy, Kurt Russell, and Strother Martin. It was based on the novel of the same name by Davis Grubb. The film is also known as Dynamite Man from Glory Jail.
In 1935, murderer Mattie Appleyard, bank robber Lee Cottrill, and young Johnny Jesus are released from the West Virginia State Penitentiary, located in the fictional town of Glory. ("Glory" is author Grubb's pseudonym for his hometown, Moundsville, West Virginia, site of the real state prison.) Appleyard is issued a check for $25,452.32 for his 40 years of prison work, an enormous amount in the Great Depression.
All three men are escorted by prison Captain "Doc" Council to the train station, ensuring they leave town. However once on the train, Appleyard realizes that his check is only redeemable in person at the local bank in Glory, requiring his return. In the meantime, Council is in league with banker Homer Grindstaff to ensure Appleyard will not cash the check. He and his accomplices, Steve Mystic and Junior Kilfong, travel to another stop down the line in order to kill Appleyard. Informed of the plot by guilt-ridden conductor Willis Hubbard, the three former prisoners thwart the plan. Kilfong ends up shooting an innocent passenger, mining supply salesman Roy K. Sizemore. Council kills the wounded Sizemore and places the blame on Appleyard, who escapes with Sizemore's supply of dynamite.
The next day, Council informs Grindstaff of the previous events at the bank. As they talk, Appleyard walks in with dynamite strapped to his chest and a suitcase with the remainder, "60 more pounds." Appleyard threatens to blow them all up "and half this city block" if the banker doesn't cash his check. Grindstaff reluctantly complies.
Appleyard and his friends, who followed him back to Glory, split up with the plan to meet again later. While waiting at the rendezvous, Cottrill is talked into boarding a houseboat owned by a down-on-her-luck prostitute named Cleo for a drink of whiskey. Also aboard is Chanty, a sixteen-year-old virgin whom Cleo has taken in, hoping to receive $100 from any customer in exchange for her virginity. Appleyard and Johnny show up, only to be tracked down by Council and his bloodhound. The three friends get away in a skiff, leaving the suitcase of dynamite with Cleo. Johnny is worried about what Council will do to Chanty, so they turn around and go back after Council leaves.
Before Council left, he told Cleo about Appleyard's money. Held at gunpoint, Appleyard gives her the suitcase that she believes contains the money in exchange for Chanty. After they leave, Cleo tries to shoot the locked suitcase open with disastrously fatal, yet comedic results.
The fugitives are later trapped on a boxcar by Council. The train is a "fools' parade" as described by Appleyard, going nowhere beyond the local train yard. Luckily for them, guilt-ridden train conductor Willis Hubbard returns and helps them escape. However, he is too afraid of Council to tell the police what he knows.
Council, Mystic, and Kilfong track them to an abandoned house. Council decides he doesn't want to share the loot, so he kills his two confederates. He then shoots a window out, wounding Appleyard. Johnny throws a stick of the remaining dynamite at Council, but Council's bloodhound comically returns it. Appleyard hastily throws it back out the window, killing Council.
The men are arrested and Appleyard's money confiscated, but Hubbard has mustered up enough courage to confess the truth. Ultimately, Grindstaff is arrested. Appleyard and his friends are exonerated, and Appleyard is allowed to cash his check.
- James Stewart as Mattie Appleyard
- George Kennedy as Dallas "Doc" Council
- Kurt Russell as Johnny Jesus
- Strother Martin as Lee Cottrill
- Anne Baxter as Cleo
- William Windom as Roy K. Sizemore
- Mike Kellin as Steve Mystic
- Katherine Cannon as Chanty
- Morgan Paull as Junior Kilfong
- Robert Donner as Willis Hubbard
- David Huddleston as Homer Grindstaff
- Dort Clark as Enoch Purdy
- James Lee Barrett as Sonny Boy
- Kitty Jefferson Doepken as Clara
"Joey" the bloodhound was also used in The Beverly Hillbillies television series.
"Fools' Parade" was filmed entirely in Marshall County, West Virginia. Davis Grubb, author of Fools' Parade, was born and raised in Moundsville, where most of the filming took place. The production crew used the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (now CSX) throughout filming, mainly at the Moundsville station, which was demolished in 1980. The production crew used "stand-in" actors from Moundsville, such as George Metro, who portrayed the "Train Dispatcher", and at the time (1969-1970) was the trainmaster for the B&O Railroad, and Kitty Jefferson Doepken, who played Clara, Grindstaff's secretary.
Tony Mastroianni of the Cleveland Press said, "(It) is the kind of picture that leans heavily on Stewart's skill, personality and built-in folksiness. Time and again he gives you the impression of an interesting character that really isn't there in the role."
From the review in The Movie Scene: "James Stewart ... is central to the movie working, but it also features some nice and unexpected performances from the other stars such as Kurt Russell and George Kennedy. It also has a surprisingly good storyline which has a couple of layers of unexpected depth. Yet because some of it is played out for laughs it left me unsure...the light-hearted moments (seem) a bit strange..."
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
- Tony Mastroianni, "Stewart Film Leans on Him" Sept. 30, 1971 http://www.clevelandmemory.org/mastroianni/tm422.html
- "Not So Much a Parade But Surprisingly Entertaining" http://www.themoviescene.co.uk/reviews/fools-parade/fools-parade.html