Bad Bascomb (1946): Sylvan Simon’s Western, Starring Wallace Beery and Margaret O’Brien

S. Sylvan Simon directed Bad Bascomb, a western morality tale, starring Wallace Beery, as a tough guy with soft heart, and child actress Margaret O’Brien.

Bad Bascomb
Bad Bascomb 1946.jpg

Theatrical poster

The reliable supporting cast includes Marjorie Main, J. Carrol Naish, Frances Rafferty, Marshall Thompson and Henry O’Neill.

Beery plays “Bad” Bascomb, an outlaw wanted by federal marshals, outwitting  all those sent to arrest him. He and fellow bandit Bart Yancey, a cold-blooded killer, have eluded the marshals by joining a Mormon wagon train heading to Utah (pretending to be Mormons).

While there, Bascomb becomes fond of a little girl (O’Brien) who likes him.

Bascomb eventually distances himself from Yancey by thwarting a robbery, and then saving the wagon train from Indians.

In the end, justice is restored when he is taken captive by the marshal.

About the Director’s Career

Simon began his film career at Warner in 1935, directing tests. In 1937, he moved to MGM, where he worked on the Marx Brothers’ The Big Store, supervising some sequences. He directed Red Skelton’s first starring feature, 1941’s Whistling in the Dark, and two other Skelton vehicles, A Southern Yankee and The Fuller Brush Man, in 1948.

Simon also helmed a Glenn Ford western, Lust for Gold (1949). However, Simon’s best known credit is as producer of George Cukor’s 1950 Born Yesterday, a comedy, starring Judy Holliday in Oscar-winning role.

He died of a heart attack, in Hollywood, California, at the age of 41.

Wallace Beery as Zed Bascomb
Margaret O’Brien as Emmy
Marjorie Main as Abbey Hanks
J. Carrol Naish as Bart Yancey
Frances Rafferty as Dora McCabe
Russell Simpson as Elijah Walker
Marshall Thompson as Jimmy Holden
Henry O’Neill as Governor Winton
Sara Haden as Tillie Lovejoy
Frank Darien as Elder Moab McCabe

The film earned $2,384,000 in the US and $1,261,000 elsewhere, leading to a profit of $648,000.

Screen Team:

Wallace Beery and Marjorie Main appeared in several films together:

Wyoming (1940)
Barnacle Bill (1941)
Jackass Mail (1942)
The Bugle Sounds (1942)
Rationing (1944)
Big Jack (1949)


Directed by S. Sylvan Simon
Produced by Orville O. Dull
Written by D. A. Loxley (story), William R. Lipman, Grant Garett
Music by David Snell
Cinematography Charles Schoenbaum
Edited by Ben Lewis

Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed by Loew’s, Inc.

Release date: May 22, 1946

Running time: 112 minutes
Budget $1,833,000
Box office $3,645,000

TCM showed the movie on Feb 24, 2021.