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In British colonial America, Captain Swanson's adherence to the rules results in Trader Callendar's selling to the Indians under cover of a government permit. Jim Smith won't sit still for that. He organizes troopers to dress up as Indians and intercept the shipments which, of course, gets him thrown in jail. Written by
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For the role of Capt. Swanson actor George Sanders replaced Sir Cedric Hardwicke due to Hardwicke's other commitments. See more »
The shooting demonstration done in court was described as taking place at twenty paces. Twenty paces is equal to approximately 60 feet; the shots fired in the film were at approximately 20 feet. See more »
John Wayne's first non-western after his breakthrough role with Stagecoach was with his Stagecoach co-star Claire Trevor and is what I would call a colonial. For myself I've always thought of westerns as films that are located west of the Mississippi and this one isn't even west of the Appalachians. Nevertheless it's a good follow-up film to Stagecoach and the first of about two dozen loan outs that Republic's Herbert J. Yates charged for the Duke's services. This one was made under the RKO banner.
Neil Swanson's novel The First Rebel was the source for this film and later on in a film based in the same post Seven Year's War American colonial period, Cecil B. DeMille would make a big budgeted spectacle of another of Swanson's novels, turning The Judas Tree into Unconquered.
RKO didn't quite put the production values of a DeMille film into Allegheny Uprising, but it still is a good action film and a plus on John Wayne's career.
What Alleghany Uprising shows are some of the seeds of the American Revolution. The Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years War which was known on the North American continent as the French and Indian War gave generous peace terms to the Indians. The British took over the French guarantees of no white settlement west of the Appalachians. That was easier said than done.
John Wayne is the leader of a group of settlers located in the Alleghany river area and he's pretty upset that trade is still permitted with the tribes. Brian Donlevy and Ian Wolfe are a pair of unscrupulous traders who are devilishly shrewd in gaining their objectives. They play British captain George Sanders like a violin, stirring him up against Wayne and the settlers. Of course the trade goods that Donlevy and Wolfe are peddling consist of rum and tomahawks.
George Sanders has the key role in this film. He really does represent the worst of the British military character. Not a bad person at heart really, but pigheaded and stubborn with not a clue as to how he's being tricked and used by Donlevy and Wolfe. Usually Sanders whether playing villains or heroes is usually someone of intelligence. This was a radical departure for him, but he carries it off.
Sanders also represents in microcosm the type that in dealing with the American colonies created the climate for the American Revolution down the road. The key scene in the film is when Wayne remarks how Sanders just refuses to understand the settlers and their ways.
Claire Trevor plays a colonial Calamity Jane, a real frontier girl who is both in love and exasperated with the Duke. A nice follow-up for her to the almost tragic Dallas in Stagecoach.
You'll see such stalwart supporting characters as Chill Wills who has a song to sing in this first film with John Wayne, Wilfrid Lawson, Eddie Quillan, Olaf Hytten, and Robert Barrat. Barrat is my favorite among the supporting cast. There's a court martial in the climax scene where the very shrewd Mr. Barrat who is the civil magistrate in the area, turns defense lawyer and with some interesting ballistic evidence turns the tables on the villains.
The Pennsylvania farmers were one independent lot. Not to be forgotten is the fact that this area in refusing to pay the tax on whiskey, precipitated the first challenge to U.S. government authority thirty years later in the Whiskey Rebellion. Of course George Washington was shrewd enough to use just the right amount of authority in dealing with the situation.
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