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When transplanted Texan Bob Seton arrives in Lawrence, Kansas he finds much to like about the place, especially Mary McCloud, daughter of the local banker. Politics is in the air however. It's just prior to the civil war and there is already a sharp division in the Territory as to whether it will remain slave-free. When he gets the opportunity to run for marshal, Seton finds himself running against the respected local schoolteacher, William Cantrell. Not is what it seems however. While acting as the upstanding citizen in public, Cantrell is dangerously ambitious and is prepared to do anything to make his mark, and his fortune, on the Territory. When he loses the race for marshal, he forms a group of raiders who run guns into the territory and rob and terrorize settlers throughout the territory. Eventually donning Confederate uniforms, it is left to Seton and the good citizens of Lawrence to face Cantrell and his raiders in one final clash. Written by
Opening credits: Some portions of this photoplay are based upon actual incidents in the lives of its principal characters. All other events and characters are fictitious, and any similarity to actual events or persons is coincidental. See more »
Throughout the film, Colt Single Action Army revolvers (commonly known as Peacemakers) are used by various actors including John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and George 'Gabby' Hayes. This revolver was not produced until the 1870s. The film is set in the late 1850s and 1860s. See more »
Opening credits prologue: In those years, 1859 and on, in the dusk before the nation plunged into the red night of civil warfare, the plains of Kansas were an earlier battleground. Down from the north, down to Kansas: up from the south, up to Kansas, came hordes - each bent on voting the territory into the Union as its own. The battle cry of the day was - - "On to Kansas." See more »
John Wayne (as Bob Seton) stars in a Civil War-era film wherein he runs for Marshall of a Kansas town, against wicked schoolteacher Walter Pidgeon (as Will Cantrell). Of course, they are rivals for the attention of a woman - beautiful Claire Trevor (as Mary McCloud). Roy Rogers adds additional charm as brother McCloud. The story is rather more ordinary than intriguing, but the western scores on several fronts
First, the direction by Raoul Walsh is outstanding. The production is well-mounted; it includes the expected exciting climax, but that's not all... Even better than the climatic ending is a spectacular sequence involving a stagecoach. Don't miss it! The indoor scenes are great, too. Watch the scenes in the Barber Shop, for example: witness the sets, direction, and photography. The placement of characters and objects, along with the great street outdoors, provide terrific visual depth.
The story doesn't do the production justice, however. And, some of the performances are merely adequate; and, sometimes they seem unfocused. Mr. Pidgeon's is probably the most consistent of the main players. Mr. Wayne and some of the players might have improved with some additional worked on their characterizations; and, if the story was sharper, "Dark Command" might have been a truer classic.
******* Dark Command (1940) Raoul Walsh ~ John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Walter Pidgeon
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