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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 15 July 2017
I first watched this film back in the early 50's in the local flea pit. now it is nice to see some of the of films being brought back to life again. We used to love the cow boy films back in those days, you had the hero, the villain, the coward who some times turned out to be a brave man in the end of course there was always the woman included. Never any sex scenes like to day just a good wholesome story line. This is one of those type of films we all love to go and watch at any age.
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on 20 May 2017
this item is very good
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on 18 July 2017
I enjoy watching John wayne films.
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on 15 May 2017
Good film
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on 30 April 2017
one of the best
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on 13 June 2017
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on 27 July 2017
black and white
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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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on 8 February 2015
Here's an old timer of 1940 vintage from the Republic Studio corral. It co-stars great John Wayne on the cusp of super-stardom, against the already-established Walter Pidgeon.

Wayne plays a kind of illiterate backwoods drifter teemed-up with a doctor turned quack-dentist (if that makes sense). Soon after hitting town he's sparring for the job of Marshall against Pidgeon's eloquent, debonair, but angry and dangerous school teacher; himself very loosely based upon the violent raider Quantrell. More dangerous still; they're both sparring for the same love interest too, played by Claire Trevor. Roy Rogers and `Gabby' Hayes also feature.

It's an old western, certainly, created before the classic operas of the 1950's-60's; filmed in black & white with - at times - slightly hokey script and confrontations. However, it doesn't stint on plot and action. America is stampeding into a Civil War which will eventually see the deaths of over three-quarters of a million combatants. Riding chases are full-blooded and violent. At least one scene features a dis-wagoning in which both horses fall very heavily on their heads and fore-legs. It looks crippling, and the scene is immediately cut. Nobody was superintending animal welfare at this period.

Still well worth a watch at the right price both as a movie in its own right and as a snapshot of movie (and Wayne) history. Runtime is listed as 1hr 29mins, 4:3 aspect ratio and U viewer rating. There's an interesting extra discussing John Wayne's rise to success and the realisation of his character and style. My copy is the `Universal' release, and was an immaculate disc & case from my local library sale for just a quid.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 August 2011
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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