A Southern Yankee (1948)





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Hot on the heels of Columbia's The Fuller Brush Man, MGM released another Red Skelton gagfest, A Southern Yankee. Set during the Civil War, the film casts Skelton as bumbling bellboy Aubrey Filmore. Yearning to help the Northern cause by becoming an undercover spy, Aubrey succeeds beyond his wildest dreams when circumstances force him to pose as notorious Southern secret agent Major Drumman (George Coulouris), aka "The Grey Spider". Infiltrating rebel territory, our hero does his best (which is none too good) to intercept the Grey Spider's messages and smuggle them to the North. Along the way, he falls in love with pert Southern belle Sallyann Weatherby (Arlene Dahl). Many of the side-splitting gag routines were devised by Buster Keaton, notably the now-famous scene in which Aubrey gingerly walks across the battlefield between Northern and Southern lines carrying a two-sided flag -- the Northern Stars and Stripes on one side, the Southern Stars and Bars on the other -- a strategy that works until the wind suddenly changes! Though Edward Sedgwick is credited with the direction, Red Skelton later revealed that A Southern Yankee was actually directed by S. Sylvan Simon.
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Warner Home Video

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Red Skelton
as Aubrey Filmore
Arlene Dahl
as Sallyann Weatharby
Brian Donlevy
as Curt Devlynn
John Ireland
as Capt. Jed Calbern
George Coulouris
as Maj. Jack Drumman
Lloyd Gough
as Capt. Steve Lorford
Minor Watson
as Gen. Watkins
Charles Dingle
as Col. Weatharby
Art Baker
as Col. Clifford M. Baker
Reed Hadley
as Fred Munsey
Arthur Space
as Mark Haskins
Addison Richards
as Dr. Clayton
Joyce Compton
as Hortense Dobson
Paul Harvey
as Mr. Twitchell
Jeff Corey
as Union Cavalry Sergeant
Cliff Clark
as Dr. Cooper
Dick Wessel
as Orderly
Ian MacDonald
as Orderly
John Hilton
as Orderly
Edward Gargan
as Male Nurse
David Sharpe
as Confederate Officer
Frank McGrath
as Dispatch Rider
David Newell
as Sentry
William Tannen
as S.S. Man
Stanley Andrews
as S.S. Man
Roger Moore
as S.S. Man
Richard Simmons
as S.S. Man
Susan Simon
as Jenny
Byron Foulger
as Mr. Duncan
Wally Merrill
as Confederate Soldier
Marcus Turk
as Confederate Soldier
Ralph Montgomery
as Confederate Soldier
Walter Merrill
as Confederate Soldier
Ralph Volkie
as Soldier
Steve Bennett
as Soldier
Allen Mathews
as Soldier
Paul Newlan
as Man with Saber
Henry Hall
as Thaddeus Drumman
Lane Chandler
as Sentry
Carl Saxe
as Sentry
Weldon Heyburn
as Officer
Dick Simmons
as S.S. Man
Sam Flint
as Officer
Jack Lee
as Officer
Forbes Murray
as Officer
Harry Cording
as Horseman
Kermit Maynard
as Horseman
John Merton
as Horseman
Frank S. Hagney
as Horseman
Richard Alexander
as Bartender
Rod O'Connor
as Maj. Kingsby
Bert Moorhouse
as Captain
Bill Kennedy
as Lt. Sheve
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Critic Reviews for A Southern Yankee

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Audience Reviews for A Southern Yankee

There were some jokes that worked but this film was not able to hit all the jokes in my mind. I think that they tried some of the jokes way too much like Red Skelton's character consistently tripping throughout the film being clumsy. I don't think those worked in the film after a while because it happened far too much. So much so that it became predictable and a characteristic rather than funny. Red Skelton's character after a while became annoying and the only characters I enjoyed were anyone but Red Skelton. It is not a movie I would recommend but it does have some interesting jokes that I do believe did work such as a joke written by Buster Keaton which is Red Skelton march with one flag facing the Confederates and the other side the Union and stops a temporary fire until the wind blows. I think this film missed the moral and the risk element. If there was a sense of the danger by a loss I think that this film would have been made it's marks better but there was no sadness or seriousness of the ramifications of what was going on. It was just all jokes. Because of that this film missed on it's message. I also felt like this film ended too conveniently by having the War just end the way it did just seemed unrealistic. There was no sense that the Union or Confederates were is severe danger from low supplies or dirtiness, hunger. It all seemed like they were both on equal footing besides medical supplies and wounded men by the Confederacy and the Union low on cotton supplies.


Red Skelton is wonderful, as an undercover spy for the Union army. Some hilarious gags. Good support from Arlene Dahl, Brian Donlevy, George Coulouris and John Ireland. The scene where he walks across the battlefield with a confederate flag on one side, and a union flag on the other, it works until the wind changes direction! It's a great classic scene. Good costumes.

James Higgins
James Higgins

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