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A Southern Yankee

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Director  Edward Sedgwick
Music director  David Snell
Country  United States
6.8/10 IMDb

Genre  Comedy, History, War
Producer  Paul Jones
Language  English
A Southern Yankee movie poster

Writer  Melvin Frank, Buster Keaton, Norman Panama, Harry Tugend
Release date  August 5, 1948 (1948-08-05)
Cast  Red Skelton (Aubrey Filmore), Brian Donlevy (Kurt Devlynn), Arlene Dahl (Sallyann Weatharby), George Coulouris (Maj. Jack Drumman aka The Grey Spider), Lloyd Gough (Capt. Steve Lorford), John Ireland (Capt. Jed Calbern)
Similar movies  The General (1926)

A southern yankee original theatrical trailer

A Southern Yankee (1948) is an American comedy film, directed by Edward Sedgwick, starring Red Skelton and Arlene Dahl, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is also known as The Spy.


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A semi-remake of Buster Keaton's The General (1927), Skelton plays a Union soldier who spies on the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Keaton served as technical adviser on the film.

A Southern Yankee A Southern Yankee 1948 IMDb

A southern yankee preview clip

Plot summary

In 1865, Aubrey Filmore works as a bell boy at the Palmer Hotel in St. Louis. Aubrey wants to work as a spy for the Union Government, and contacts Colonel Clifford M. Baker at the Union Secret Service, to ask if he can be of service in their elite spy unit. Aubrey has asked before, and the answer from Colonel Baker is still no.

A Southern Yankee Southern Yankee Promo shot of Red Skelton Arlene Dahl

Posters are soon put up, warning the public of a particularly cunning spy named The Grey Spider. Aubrey sees the posters, and when Major Jack Drumman comes to stay at the hotel, Aubrey finds out that he is in fact The Grey Spider. Unfortunately Aubrey is discovered by the major, and tries to force him wear Confederate clothes to look like The Grey Spider, in order to shoot him as a spy.

A Southern Yankee Red Skelton newsboy blog Is A Southern Yankee endangered

Before the major's plan is realized, Aubrey accidentally knocks him unconscious. Major Drumman's dangerously alluring accomplice, Sallyann Weatharby, enters the room and Aubrey instantly falls in love with her. Since Drumman is knocked out, Aubrey agrees to join Sallyann, posing as the Major, to a meeting with other important Confederate spies.

A Southern Yankee A Southern Yankee Original Theatrical Trailer YouTube

Before Aubrey leaves the hotel, he leaves a message for Baker, telling him of his plans. Aubrey is then involved in a complicated scheme to intercept the Union forces, and is given the important task of delivering the Union battle plans to the Confederate General Watkins. He is ordered to meet up with Sallyann at a hospital near the front, Morgan's Landing.

Upon returning to Colonel Baker with the plans, Aubrey helps to make fake plans to replace the real ones with, and is ordered by the Colonel, who is very reluctant to involve Aubrey at all, to continue posing as Drumman and also deliver instructions to a Union spy.

Aubrey mixes up the plans and the instructions, and manages to wear both Confederate and Union uniform at the same time, resulting in that he is shot at by both armies and is knocked unconscious. He is carried to Morgan's landing, and Sallyann is there waiting for him as planned.

With Sallyann is also her jealous fiancé Kurt Devlynn, who is also involved in the spy business. Since Sallyann has fallen in live with Aubrey, she tells Kurt she now loves Drumnan. Aubrey then wakes up and manage to find the lost instructions to the Union spy and escapes the hospital.

Kurt tells his men to dress in Union uniforms and intercept Aubrey/Drumman to steal the battle plans. Sheer dumb luck makes Aubrey escape from their clutches. When arriving to hs destination at Sallyann's father's plantation, Aubrey by mistake delivers the wrong documents - the spy instructions instead of the plans - and mayhem ensues, where both Union spies and Confederate spies steal and retrieve the plans respectively. Ultimately General Watkins gets the plans and Aubrey's Union spy contact Captain Lorford gets the instructions. All is well.

That night, Aubrey is busy courting Sallyann, when he is supposed to steal back the plans from the general. The Confederates realize there is a Union spy in the house and set a trap to catch him. But instead of catching Aubrey, they only manage to catch the real Grey Spider, Drumman, believing he is a Union spy.

Since everyone thinks the Union spy is caught, Aubrey has no trouble getting the plans from General Watkins. But soon after, Drumman's father turns up and exposes Aubrey for what he is. When Aubrey is brought outside to be executed for treason, he is saved by Sallyann, and at that moment the war is declared over.


  • Red Skelton as Aubrey Filmore
  • Brian Donlevy as Kurt Devlynn
  • Arlene Dahl as Sallyann Weatharby
  • George Coulouris as Maj. Drumman
  • Lloyd Gough as Capt. Steve Lorford
  • John Ireland as Capt. Jed Calbern
  • Minor Watson as Gen. Watkins
  • Charles Dingle as Col. Weatherby
  • Art Baker as Col. Clifford M. Baker
  • Reed Hadley as Fred Munsey
  • Arthur Space as Mark Haskins
  • Joyce Compton as Hortense Dobson
  • Reception

    The film earned $1,981,000 in the US and Canada and $566,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $263,000.


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