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The Iron Mistress (1952)

The life of nineteenth-century pioneer Jim Bowie is portrayed.


Gordon Douglas


James R. Webb (screenplay), Paul Wellman (novel) (as Paul I. Wellman)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Ladd ... Jim Bowie
Virginia Mayo ... Judalon de Bornay
Joseph Calleia ... Juan Moreno
Phyllis Kirk ... Ursula de Varamendi
Alf Kjellin ... Philippe de Cabanal
Douglas Dick ... Narcisse de Bornay
Anthony Caruso ... Black Jack Sturdevant (as Tony Caruso)
Nedrick Young ... Henri Contrecourt (as Ned Young)
George Voskovec ... John James Audubon
Richard Carlyle Richard Carlyle ... Rezin Bowie
Robert Emhardt ... Gen. Cuny
Don Beddoe ... Dr. Cuny (as Donald Beddoe)
Harold Gordon Harold Gordon ... Andrew Marschalk
Jay Novello ... Judge Crain
Nick Dennis ... Nez Coupe


Barely historical presentation of the life of Jim Bowie. Here he goes to New Orleans to sell lumber but falls in love with Judalon. To match his rivals he must become sophisticated and does so. By the time he sells the mill, starts a plantation and tries to wed Jedualon the woman has wed playboy Phillipe. Along the way to true wisdom he designs a special knife made from part of a meteorite. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


JIM BOWIE...a man with his name on a knife - and a woman with a weapon all her own!


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Parents Guide:

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

12 March 1953 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

La maîtresse de fer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


First film for Alan Ladd under his new contract with Warner Bros. after spending the previous ten years at Paramount. See more »


When the girl is hitting the pinata she is blindfolded, but you can see clearly that she is following the pinata swing as she hits it. See more »


Black Jack Sturdevant: You got the guts for a ten foot circle, wrists strapped together?
See more »


Referenced in The Red Balloon (1956) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Reel Jim Bowie
20 September 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

After a decade at Paramount Sue Carol negotiated a new studio contract for Alan Ladd at Warner Brothers. Sad to because her husband's greatest film was ready for release at Paramount and they had no great urgency to feature him in the publicity. But that's another story.

Alan Ladd became another one of a good list of players to take on the role of Jim Bowie. He plays him as heroic as Richard Widmark, MacDonald Carey, Sterling Hayden or Jim Arness did. Problem was of all the legends of the American frontier, Jim Bowie was probably the one who got the biggest whitewash in history.

The man was a thoroughgoing scoundrel. As a merchant he was as unscrupulous as a latter day robber baron. He was involved in several land swindle scams. He also bought and sold slaves as well. And he wasn't even honest in that. He and Jean Lafitte had a fine racket for a while with Lafitte capturing runaways in Texas and bringing them back to the U.S. for Bowie to sell, not necessarily back to their original masters.

He did have a knife built to his specifications as per the film and with his activities he did tend to get into a lot of violent disagreements. That's the Bowie knife, the Arkansas toothpick, the Iron Mistress of the title.

But Ladd plays Bowie as heroically as the legends have him and as the novel by Paul Wellman has him. He's caught between two women, the selfish French creole aristocrat Virginia Mayo and the daughter of the Governor of the province of Coahuila in Mexico which included Texas, Phyllis Kirk.

Bowie was a violent man in a violent era. Ladd plays him like he was Shane and he was being faithful to the novel if not the real Bowie. But then we've never seen the real one on screen any time.

Still for those who liked Ladd's portrayal of Shane, The Iron Mistress is a good film for you.

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