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Western films, from silent to today

The Gambler from Natchez (1954)

The Gambler from Natchez (1954) posterDale Robertson is Capt. Vance Colby, who returns home to New Orleans after four years as an officer in the Mexican-American War looking forward to a reunion with his father.

But he finds his father dead. He’s been killed in a card game in which he was accused of cheating. And since his father never cheated, Colby knows something’s afoul and sets out to clear his father’s name.

With the help of small-time riverboat owner Antoine Barbee and his lovely daughter Melanie (Debra Paget), Colby eventually learns what really happened. His father was partners with aristocrats Andre Rivage, Claude St. Germain and gambling house owner Nicholas Cadiz in building a new steamboat called the Baton Rouge.

One night when gambling, the elder Colby not only won majority interest in the Baton Rouge, but wound up owner of the Rivage plantation as well. Enraged, Andre killed him, then conspired with his friends to plant a marked deck in the dead man’s hands.

Colby sets out to get revenge. Andre’s involvement is the most problematic, since his lovely sister Ivette (Lisa Daniels) turned the captain’s head no sooner than he landed in New Orleans.


One of the better Dale Robertson Westerns from the 1950s, made more unique by the fact that our hero must get his revenge without violating the New Orleans code of conduct for gentlemen.

The film also benefits from a wonderful performance by Debra Paget as the fiesty, jealous and absolutely ravishing Melanie Barbee. She gets our attention early by conking one of Robertson’s adversaries over the head with a frying pan and steals every scene she’s in from that point on.

And when it comes to winning the hand of her man, Melanie doesn’t care how lady-like she is. One of the film’s best moments is her arm-biting, hair-pulling catfight with Ivette Rivage.

Debra Paget as Melanie Barbee with Dale Robertson as Capt. Vance Colby in The Gambler from Natchez (1954)Directed by:
Henry Levin

Dale Robertson … Capt. Vance Colby
Debra Paget … Melanie Barbee
Thomas Gomez … Capt. Antoine Barbee
Lisa Daniels … Ivette Rivage
Kevin McCarthy … Andre Rivage
Douglas Dick … Claude St. Germaine
John Wendgraf … Nicholas Cadiz
Donald Randolph … Pierre Bonet
Henri Letondal … Robert Renard
Jay Novello … Rene Garonne
Woody Strode … Josh

Runtime: 88 min.

Memorable lines:

Capt. Colby, after Melanie has knocked out a man who was about to stab him in the back: “I can’t tell you how grateful I am. You took a great risk. May I ask why?”
Melanie Barbee: “Because I see you have a beautiful head, and I do not want it to break.”

Melanie Barbee, upon learning of Capt. Colby’s parentage: “Then he is not a fine gentleman. His father is a gambler, just like mine. I am so happy.”

Capt. Colby: “You’re wrong about her (Ivette). She’s not like her brother or the rest of them.”
Melanie Barbee: “Rabbits don’t have children without long ears.”

Melanie Barbee, spotting Ivette Rivage for the first time: “She is pale.” She smiled wider. “And skinny!”

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