"You're rotten Tennessee, dirty. And, what’s more, you like it that way!" cries a local brothel owner to a unrepentant professional gambler in Allan Dwan's surprisingly illicit Western, set "when the West was a shameless young hussy!," as the original poster memorably stated. Blasé card shark Tennessee (the steel-jawed John Payne, the Clark Gable of the B-movie set) spends his time shaking down marks and flirting with the raven-haired Duchess (Rhonda Fleming), the "manager" of the local "Marriage Market," where busty lasses sell brownies and companionship to desperate miners. Tennessee's easy life and growing friendship with the affable prospector Cowpoke (Ronald Reagan) soon becomes tested, however, when Cowpoke's new flame appears on the scene and when a conniving businessman seeks to finally get even. Almost entirely filmed in the claustrophobic interiors of gambling halls, brothels and bedrooms and flush with barely concealed illusions to prostitution and other illicit activities, TENNESSEE'S PARTNER serves as a suitably decadent follow-up to Dwan and cinematographer John Alton's first "frontier noir," SILVER LODE. The duo barely acknowledge the Western's typical genre visuals of wide-open spaces and mountain vistas and instead turn this tale of cowboy life into a gangster's paradise of tight close-ups and looming shadows. Alton's use of color adds an extra flair: setting Fleming's red hair and green dress against the darkness or lining-up all her "employees" in a brilliant mirror shot, each of their dresses a different shade of pastel. - Jason Sanders
An intriguing friendship forged between high-stakes gambler Tennessee (John Payne) and quick-draw Cowpoke (Ronald Reagan) is tested when temptress gold-digger Goldie (Coleen Gray) bewitches Cowpoke into marrying her. Meanwhile, Tennessee has been maintaining an uneasy relationship with the Duchess (Rhonda Fleming), madam of a gambling establishment which serves as smokescreen to the bordello she operates. In the end, Cowpoke proves to be true-blue when Tennessee is framed on a false rap.