The John Wayne Collection, Vol. 2 [3 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

The Dark Command
Set in the years leading up to the Civil War and its outbreak, Dark Command tells a fictionalized version of the story of William Clarke Quantrill, the schoolteacher-turned-renegade, whose raids -- ostensibly on behalf of the Confederacy -- turned Kansas into a charnel house. John Wayne plays Bob Setton, a young Texan who arrives in Lawrence, KS, in 1859 on his way west, partnered with George "Gabby" Hayes. He meets Marie McCloud (Claire Trevor) and her younger brother, Fletch (Roy Rogers), and takes a liking to them, especially Marie. His only competition for her is William Cantrell (Walter Pidgeon), the local schoolteacher, who has big ambitions in life. He is nominated for town marshal and seems a shoo-in, especially as his only rival is Bob Setton, who admits he knows nothing about the law and can't even read, but Setton wins with his honest, unpretentious speech. At the time, Kansas is riven by strife, as settlers from the North opposed to slavery and those from the South supporting it pour into the territory, and Setton has his hands full. His most difficult personal moment comes when he must arrest Fletch for shooting an anti-slavery farmer (Trevor Bardette) to death. Cantrell leads a campaign of terror against the jury, however, which finds the young man not guilty just as the Civil War breaks out. In the months that follow, Setton and his posse go after the raiders who are stealing and destroying huge amounts of property in Kansas on behalf of the Confederacy. He suspects Cantrell is their leader, but can't prove it, and has to tread carefully. As the raids worsen, and the war drags on -- even Marie's pro-Confederacy banker father is murdered during a run on his bank -- their conflict comes to a violent end as Cantrell launches an attack on Lawrence, vowing to destroy the town, with only Bob Setton and Cantrell's own mother (Marjorie Main) standing in his way. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

The Fighting Kentuckian
Set shortly after the Battle of New Orleans, the film casts John Wayne as John Breen, a Kentucky trooper making the long journey homeward with his confreres. Breen becomes involved with a plan by robber baron Blake Randolph (John Howard) to deprive hundreds of French army refugees of land granted to them by an Act of Congress. Championing the cause of the refugees, Breen does his best to defeat Randolph and his minions--and to prevent the villain's marriage to Fleurette De Marchand (Vera Ralston), the daughter of a former French general (Hugo Haas). Oliver Hardy makes a rare appearance sans Stan Laurel as Wayne's pugnacious, philosophical sidekick Willie Payne. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

In Old California
With its slight resemblance to Destry Rides Again (1939) -- probably not entirely coincidental -- this rousing Western from Republic Pictures remains a joy throughout. John Wayne plays Tom Craig, a mild-mannered druggist from Boston who opens a shop in wild and woolly Sacramento shortly before the Gold Rush. The town is "owned" by the Dawson brothers, Britt (Albert Dekker) and Joe (Dick Purcell), who poison Craig's tonic when saloon hostess Lacey Miller (Binnie Barnes) takes too much of an interest in the handsome newcomer. Town drunk Whitey (Emmett Lynn) has one drink too many, and all of Sacramento is soon in a lynching mood. The news of "gold in them thar hills" saves the druggist in the nick of time, but his business is destroyed. While everyone is heading for the gold fields, Craig prepares to leave town with snobbish debutante Ellen Sanford (Helen Parrish), whom he intends to marry. News of typhoid fever among the prospectors changes his mind, however, and the man once referred to as "a human hitchin' post instead of a two-legged man," risks his own life to save the suffering populace. The Dawson brothers, meanwhile, plan to hijack the medical supplies and sell them to the highest bidder, but when Britt Dawson learns that Lacey is helping the sick and may be stricken with the disease herself, he has a change of heart and eventually confesses to spiking Craig's medicine. Cast against type for most of the film, John Wayne fails to make his amiable druggist entirely believable but remains simply John Wayne throughout -- which is as it should be. Binnie Barnes is rowdy and fun whether leading a chorus of "California Joe" by Johnny Marvin and Fred Rose, or jealously interrupting a tête-à-tête between Wayne and 19-year-old Helen Parrish. Usually cast as glacial "other women" in Hollywood films, the British-born Barnes had actually begun her professional career touring Europe and South Africa with bucolic American headliner Tex McLeod, which was as good a preparation as any to play In Old California's saloon belle. Patsy Kelly, who shoots down her laundry with a Winchester, and Edgar Kennedy, as Wayne's tooth-ache plagued sidekick, add to the general fun. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Claire Trevor
    Claire Trevor - Marie McCloud
  • John Wayne
    John Wayne - Bob Setton
  • Walter Pidgeon
    Walter Pidgeon - William Cantrell
  • Roy Rogers
    Roy Rogers - Fletch McCloud
  • George "Gabby" Hayes
    George "Gabby" Hayes - Doc Grunch
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