The Fighting Kentuckian (John Wayne) [DVD]
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John Wayne stars as a member of a Kentucky regiment that helped defeat the British at New Orleans. He stays behind to help the French settlers fight unscrupulous developers and to win the hand of Fleurette (Vera Ralston), the daughter of a French general (Hugo Haas).
Here's something you don't see every day. Then again, would you want to? Several years before the 1950s' Davy Crockett craze, John Wayne donned a coonskin cap to play a militiaman in early-19th-century Alabama. He and his fellow Kentuckians are just passing through--"marching 600 miles," as they merrily sing (and sing, and sing), because riverboat magnate John Howard has refused to haul them. Howard and all-purpose scoundrel Grant Withers are scheming to dispossess a community of French émigrés--veterans of Napoleon's Grand Army who've come seeking life, liberty, etc. in the New World. Howard's also out to marry Vera Ralston, the French general's daughter. Naturally, Wayne's just the lad to gum up both plans.
Wayne himself produced The Fighting Kentuckian, but far from repeating the success of his maiden effort, Angel and the Badman, this is one of the feeblest films in his long career. Writer-director George Waggner never gets a handle on what a pre-Western should look and move like. Consequently, the cast does a lot of standing around looking silly in period costume, waiting--mostly in vain--for the script to establish their connection to one another and something resembling a plot. There is a glossier look to the proceedings than most Republic pictures achieved, thanks to Lee Garmes's pearly cinematography, but this is scant consolation. So is the almost creepy presence of Oliver Hardy, sans Laurel, doing Ollie-shtick as Wayne's jolly sidekick. No, he doesn't say, "This is another fine mess you've got me into!" But he should. --Richard T. Jameson
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Top Customer Reviews
It stars John Wayne and Oliver Hardy. Wait! Who? You heard me. What's more, they have quite a double-act going, with Ollie proving he wasn't only the funniest comedian in the world (in my humble opinion) but was more than capable of turning in a totally credible semi-straight performance, as he does here.
It's set in Alabama in 1812, has a fairly labyrinthine plot, some pretty sensuous romantic interludes, and boasts a female lead much derided in her day, Czech skating star Vera Ralston, who in fact acquits herself well enough, seeming to enjoy her scenes with Wayne, who was still, at a young-looking 42, a beautiful man, as well as becoming one of the movies' most natural actors.
I can't outline the plot, since I'm not entirely sure of it! It involves French refugees who were loyal to Napoleon, criminal land-grabbers, and a troop of Kentucky riflemen of whom the Duke and Ollie are two foremost members.
Ralston is Florette, daughter of the French General, while the enjoyably merry Marie Windsor has a featured role - and a fine old time - as a duplicitous femme fatale, western style.
George Waggner (responsible for The Wolf Man) wrote and directed, the latter rather well, and Bruce Surtees excels behind the camera. The final scenes of battle are beautifully shot and genuinely exciting.
Duke is at his most charming, and Ollie - well, I love the man, and to see him and Wayne so obviously enjoying playing together is a joy in itself. At the end, when Ollie (in a nod to his day-job with Stan) delicately picks a speck of dust from Duke's hat, I nearly stood up in my chair and cheered!
Not a great film by a long way, but unlike anything else I've ever seen, for both good and not so good reasons.
An odd, slightly mad yarn, well worth a watch.
The film is certainly a very curious one. The lead actress Vera Ralston who acted as Vera Hruba Ralston with Wayne in "Dakota" (45), went Hruba less for this one. Originally Ralston was a Czech figure skater who represented her country in the 1936 Olympics, where she supposedly snubbed Hitler. She later emigrated to the USA where she could lay claim to have developed into one of the worst actresses in history, and there are quite a few contenders. She became a lover of, and later married Republic studio head Herbert J Yates. Now, what can she have seen in a man 40 years older than her? Yates assisted Vera's career mightily and she rose like a meteor into leading lady parts. Unfortunately the meteor never got hot. In fact in didn't even get luke warm, as evidenced by her painfully robotic acting in this film.Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
This DVD is suited to the more senior viewer who likes movies from the good old days.
John Wayne plays a good part.
Fantastic funny old film starring john Wayne and Stan laurel an unusual mix but very good would recommend to anyonePublished on 7 Jan. 2014 by jan