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Allegheny Uprising (1939)

Not Rated  |   |  Adventure, History, Western  |  10 November 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 1,075 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 12 critic

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 ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (based on: the factual story "The First Rebel")
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Smith
Capt. Swanson
Wilfrid Lawson ...
Robert Barrat ...
John F. Hamilton ...
Moroni Olsen ...
Eddie Quillan ...
Wallis Clark ...
Monte Montague ...
Olaf Hytten ...


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 Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Thrill-Romance Giant Of The Year! (1957 reissue poster)


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Allegheny Frontier  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


The Professor: Men, we've fought and won. But in winning we have lost something. In defending one law, we've come to despise all law. And if you go on like this, we'll destroy the very thing we fight for.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue:

This is a tale, laid in the Allegheny Mountains, of Jim Smith and his black boys, loyal subjects of His Majesty King George III - and their fight against the Delaware Indians in the year 1759. See more »


Yankee Doodle
Music traditional - English origin (ca. 1755)
Sung by the men at MacDougall's tavern
Reprised by the men after the trial
Variations in the score throughout
See more »

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User Reviews

Forgotten Gem Lost Amongst The Greatest Movie Year's Sparklers
19 August 2011 | by (North Texas sticks (see all my reviews)) – See all my reviews

No wonder 1939 is widely regarded as Hollywood's best year of all time! With all the sparkling jewels produced that year, such as Gone With The Wind, Goodbye, Mr. Chipps, The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex, Union Pacific, Stagecoach, The Roaring Twenties, and Dodge City, RKO's relatively unambitious production Allegheney Uprising was just a pearl on the necklace. But this unpretentious yet stunningly beautiful picture of colonial life on the frontier and events setting the stage for the American Revolution is one of the best movies ever made.

This movie is an absolutely thrilling from the beginning to the end, one knockout scene after another, directed with precision and panache by William Seiter, almost non-stop action and drama. So breathtakingly fast paced yet so smoothly edited, it seems as if two hours worth of movie has been crammed into 80 minutes of running time. All is swept along by an rousing, grand operatic score by British composer Anthony Collins. Producer P. J. Wolfson's script is intelligent with sharp, colorful dialog consistent with Eighteenth Century speech patterns. Allegheney Uprising is beautifully photographed in the luminous, sensuous black and white common to pictures of this Golden Era. The sets and costumes are superb, painting an authentic picture of colonial frontier life. Those who say it should have been in color or that the colorized version is better need to wash out their mouths with a bar of colonial lye soap. The entire tone of the picture would have been changed, and it is virtually perfect as is.

Allegheney Uprising is beautifully acted by a cast led by John Wayne and Claire Trevor. Both fresh from their triumph in Stagecoach, Wayne and Trevor must have been anxious to prove it wasn't a fluke, that they were in fact top star potential. Both do so in style. Wayne, as the leader of the Allegheney mountain region's "lawful rebellion" against British misrule, is much more relaxed, mature, and confident than in Stagecoach. While Stagecoach raised him to the ranks of stardom, Allegheney Uprising proved he was there to stay. Ms Trevor, as the leather-clad tomboy in love with Wayne, gives one of her liveliest and most charming performances, refreshingly unlike the hard-bitten moll which was her typical roll both previously and later. She was quoted as saying that an actress should never fall in love with her leading man, but that she always did. It is obvious here that in this their second picture together she and the young he-man Wayne have a "simpatico". In support George Sanders plays to perfection the stern, dutiful, aristocratic British Army officer antagonistic to the surly colonists, while Brian Donlevy provides his usual sneering villain as the rum and gun runner to the menacing heathen savages. But it is Wilfrid Lawson who virtually dominates the picture with his colorful, exuberant portrayal of Trevor's riotous, boozy, seldom-home father. Some will find his acting over-the-top, but his character as portrayed represents one of the messy but likable hard case types who were common on the early frontier and necessary for its settlement. Moroni Olsen, Robert Barrat, and Chill Wills add their always reliable support.

Allegheney Uprising is a thrilling and beautifully realized picture of early America and the birth of our traditions of freedom and independence. It is a prime example of the craft of Old Hollywood movie making at its peak. Exhillirating, thoroughly enjoyable entertainment from the Golden Era. Highly recommended!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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