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Dynamite Man from Glory Jail

Dynamite Man from Glory Jail – 1971
aka Fool’s Parade
Andrew V. McLaglen

Davis Grubb – novel
James Lee Barrett – screenplay


James Stewart
George Kennedy
Anne Baxter

Review by John Rouse Merriott Chard

God uses the good ones. The bad ones use God
Fools’ Parade (also known as Dynamite Man from Glory Jail) is directed by Andrew McLaglen and stars James Stewart, George Kennedy, Kurt Russell, and Strother Martin. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Davis Grubb with a screenplay by James Lee Barrett. Harry Stradling Jr. photographs on location in Marshall County, West Virginia and Henry Vars scores the music.

Three men released from prison, one with a cheque for $25,452.32 in his pocket. One crooked bank manager and one vindictive prison captain, both men determined not to let the prisoners cash in that cheque.

Something of an under seen picture due to no home format release as yet, Fools’ Parade is a well acted story set around the depression era. It’s got a mixture of violence, comedy, adventure and whimsy, while its themes of corruption, new beginnings and moral quandaries are neatly put together as a melodramatic whole. The characterisations are most interesting, not least the three criminals, who having served time for some terrible crimes, are actually the most stand up guys in a town that’s full of desperation; where the residents are teetering on the brink of badness.

The cast speaks for itself as regards quality, and they deliver on the promise of their names. While an unrecognisable Anne Baxter also enters the fray late on with a heartfelt and dramatic performance. Special mention for Stradling’s photography, which captures the hazy atmosphere of the troubled 30s especially well. A more than involving film that prospective new viewers should try and catch if they get the chance. 7/10

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70s Films

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