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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for an Oater
This is a brisk, efficient, intelligent little film, which has been more than adequately summarised by other reviewers. It makes good use of its cast and resources, and draws more strands into its 90 minutes running time - the turmoil of the civil war, the dodgy, rule-of-thumb way that law and order was enforced (or attempted) in the frontier towns of the old Wild West -...
Published on 4 Aug 2012 by J. Rottweiller Swinburne

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wayne Saves Another Republic Western.
Cashing in on the successful pairing of John Wayne and Clair Trevor in John Ford's landmark western "Stagecoach", Republic paired the two together for their third consecutive film together. With a budget of nearly three-quarters of a million dollars it was the most expensive film of the studios early years. They brought in the respected director Raoul Walsh, who had...
Published on 28 Mar 2010 by Bob Salter


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wayne Saves Another Republic Western., 28 Mar 2010
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dark Command (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
Cashing in on the successful pairing of John Wayne and Clair Trevor in John Ford's landmark western "Stagecoach", Republic paired the two together for their third consecutive film together. With a budget of nearly three-quarters of a million dollars it was the most expensive film of the studios early years. They brought in the respected director Raoul Walsh, who had directed Wayne in his first big film "The Big Trail"(30). Sadly that film flopped, and the inexperienced Wayne took much of the blame and was sentenced back to making poverty row westerns for nearly a decade. But now his star was burning ever brighter, and he was quickly establishing himself as a big box office draw. Republic even hired Walter Pidgeon from MGM to add some class to proceedings. The whiskery George "Gabby" Hayes was reunited with his old sidekick Wayne from their B western days. Republic even threw in a Triggerless Roy Rogers, their new rising B-feature player, in an oddly effective rare appearance outside of his series westerns. Four writers were put to work adapting a novel by W.R. Burnett. Perhaps the greatest Hollywood stuntman of all time, Yakima Canutt was also added to the payroll. He was credited as the second unit director with Cliff Lyons. Republic's confidence was not misplaced and the film became a big grosser.

The film is set in Kansas in 1859 as tension between states in the lead up to the Civil war was growing. Walter Pidgeon stars as Cantrill, a school teacher who competes with Wayne's Texan cowboy for the affections of a beautiful banker's daughter played by Clair Trevor. As the war breaks out Cantrill becomes the leader of a lawless gang of guerilla fighters bent on destruction and plundering. Wayne who has become the sheriff of the local town, sets out to hunt him down and the two are set on a collision course. The film is clearly based on the true bloody exploits of one William Quantrell, whose murderous small army of misfits became known as "Quantrell's raiders". Jesse James and his brother Frank learned how to kill whilst operating in this band. Even the burning of the Kansas town Lawrence was spectacularly re-enacted.

The film contains many good moments, perhaps most memorable being the famous scene where a team of horses and a wagon containing four men plummet over a cliff into a lake. It is clear that no dummies were used, and that Canutt and his stuntmen were taking their risky skills to the very brink of what was possible. Filmed from above, the scene is a triumph! The action comes thick and fast and is of the highest quality. The cast perform well, with what has to be said is a rather awkwardly paced and plotted script. Perhaps four writers was a case of "Too many cooks spoiling the broth"? Walsh's customary brisk direction and alert use of camera movement keeps the film lively. Unfortunately the film tends to fluctuate wildly between scenes of static dialogue interspersed with bursts of wild action. This does not help the flow of the film. During the forties Wayne's star presence saved many of the westerns he appeared in for Republic, and it is fair to say this is a good case in point. Overall the film contains enough good points to award a comfortable three stars. For Wayne, there was better to come!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for an Oater, 4 Aug 2012
This is a brisk, efficient, intelligent little film, which has been more than adequately summarised by other reviewers. It makes good use of its cast and resources, and draws more strands into its 90 minutes running time - the turmoil of the civil war, the dodgy, rule-of-thumb way that law and order was enforced (or attempted) in the frontier towns of the old Wild West - than most oaters, especially those from this period. The script is unusually witty and literate for a western, there are some corking stunts, and everybody stands up to the plate and turns in a good performance, making this a worthwhile watch for those who, like me, aren't usually that taken with Westerns or Wayne. A pleasant and, as these things go, worthwhile way to pass an evening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much under rated western, 27 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Dark Command (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
Dark Command - John Wayne DVD

Dark Command is the one of the best of John Wayne's early movies (1940) and was Republic's first star vehicle for Wayne, and has a good screenplay from a W.R. Burnett novel, set in Civil War Kansas with a background story involving the bushwacker raids on the Kansas borders.

The director was Raoul Walsh with memorable music by Victor Young, co-stars Claire Trevor, Walter Pidgeon and Gabby Hayes, plus a good supporting cast including Marjorie Main, Porter Hall, Raymond Walburn, and Roy Rogers.

For some reason this film has been very overlooked and under rated and was late coming to DVD, but better late than never.

A must for any serious collector of John Wayne or western movies in general.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On to Kansas we go., 20 Aug 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dark Command (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
Loosely based around a true story, Dark Command sees John Wayne play Bob Seton, an uneducated cowboy from Texas who wins around the people of Lawrence, Kansas to become their town Marshall just prior to the outbreak of the civil war. This angers the previously respectful town teacher, Will Cantrell {Walter Pidgeon}, who after being beaten on the vote by Seton, forms guerrilla groups to raid, pillage and gun run around the Kansas countryside. Seton, now ensconced in the ways of the law, sets about crushing Cantrell and his unfeeling raiders, but there is also another matter at hand. Both men have deep affection for the same woman, Mary McCloud {Claire Trevor appearing with Wayne again after Stagecoach the previous year}, so things are just that little bit more spicy between them as things start to come to a head.

Directed by Raoul Walsh and adapted from the novel by W.R. Burnett {Little Caesar & High Sierra}, the picture also contains fine support from Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes and features a pleasing score from Victor Young. Tho historically dubious, Dark Command is no less enjoyable for being a creaky distortion of the "Quantrill's Raiders" {re: Cantrell} period in history. Those after a history lesson would be well advised to source from elsewhere in that respect. Catching John Wayne just as he was about to become the towering presence he was, the film also serves as notice to a time when stunts and character interplay were precious commodities. Walsh, ever the sharp eye for action, delivers some wonderful sequences here, horses and carts are a thundering, even careering over cliffs at one point. Whilst the final raid on Lawrence is a blood pumping feast for the eyes. But it's with the feel of the film that it ultimately succeeds as a period piece of note. The mood is dark as the civil war looms, slave trading and gun running sit distastefully with dubious politics, and then the war, with Cantrell's and his raiders taking their spoils of war leaving a particularly nasty taste in the mouth. All of which is moodily cloaked in a Raoul Walsh inspired sheen.

A tip top production all round, and a fine cast on form makes Dark Command a must see for Republic Studios enthusiasts, see it if you can. 7/10
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Early Attempt For Wayne, 5 May 2011
By 
Mrs. Marilyn A. Rice "RR" (sussex) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dark Command (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
This underrated western was made just a year after John Ford's classic western "Stagecoach" which John Wayne had his first big role as the Ringo Kid. "Dark Command" is also just as good and it's directed by Raoul Walsh, who also directed Wayne in a early western called "The big trail". It also has an interesting cast, including Claire Trevor, Walter Pidgeon, Roy Rogers and George Hayes who starred as Wayne's sidekick in many westerns. If you are a fan of John Wayne, I guarantee that you will enjoy this early western.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Command, 6 Sep 2013
By 
Ian Pearson "Ensign Ewart" (Sheffield,South Yorkshire,UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dark Command (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
An interesting western, even if Historically inaccurate! I think everybody(and their dog), knows what really happened to William Clarke Quantrell,(suspect name spelt delibarately wrong for the movie!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Command, 12 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Dark Command (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
One of John Wayne's best "B" movies like most on them he plays a great part and plays it well.
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3.0 out of 5 stars young duke, 9 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Dark Command (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
one of john waynes early films
plenty of action walter pidgeon
stars as well
the cantrell maybe be a veiled
quantrill
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 16 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Dark Command (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
very pleased with purchase, would use seller again
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raoul Walsh's "Dark Command", 9 Feb 2010
This review is from: Dark Command (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
One of the best films John Wayne made between 1940 and 1946, "Dark Command" was directed by the master of action Raoul Walsh while on loan to Republic Pictures in the wake of "Stagecoach". While it was made for a company that specialized in B-movie serials the film doesn't look low budget. Based on a story by W.R. Burnett there's no long winded James Edward Grant style dialogue here which doesn't make Wayne look like a fool.
Walter Pidgeon is excellant as the villain Will Cantrell, one year before he would star in "How Green Was My Valley". Their are also good performances from Gabby Hayes and in a rare non-singing performance, Roy Rogers. It's also the only time he was in a film with Wayne. Other actors and actresses include Claire Trevor, Marjorie Main, J. Farrell McDonald and Joe Sawyer.
In this film Raoul Walsh does what he did best, direct action and fight scenes and as always he manages to make good romance scenes that aren't overbearing. The film is set before and during the Civil War and the period clothing and set pieces are exceedingly accurate. Half the cast wear top hats and coats, not stetsons and leather vests.
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Dark Command (John Wayne) [DVD]
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