Thunder Bay

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THUNDER BAY  is, despite a game cast and able production team, a pretty lame exercise at adventure-drama, with two oil wildcatters (James Stewart and Dan Duryea) locking horns with shrimp fishermen (led by Gilbert Roland) over a piece of the Louisiana Gulf Coast.  Oil or shrimp, which is more important, which will win out?  Guess.

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The most pedestrian of eight collaborations between Stewart and director Anthony Mann, it has little in the way of action, levity or insight to hook a look: it came in #30 for the moneymakers of 1953, drilling up $7,300,000.  A 102-minute yawn, with Joanne Dru, Jay C.Flippen, Antonio Moreno, Harry Morgan and Fortunio Bonanova.

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The movie’s real claim to fame—make that infamy—comes in hindsight,of both the  bitterly sad and blackly humorous variety, with the eventual near-destruction (make that ongoing) of the Gulf of Mexico by oil company pollution, exemplified by the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010. The script’s rah-rah over petroleum doesn’t smell so sweet anymore.

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