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Dark Command (1940)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, Western | 15 April 1940 (USA)
In Kansas, during the Civil War opposing pro-Union and pro-Confederate camps clash and visiting Texan Bob Seton runs afoul of William Cantrell's Raiders.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

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Doc Grunch (as George Hayes)
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Bushropp (as Joseph Sawyer)
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Mrs. Hale
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Dave
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Mr. Hale
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A drama of undying love

Genres:

Drama | Romance | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

15 April 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Comando Negro  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA "High Fidelity" Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of Will Cantrell is loosely based on the real-life Confederate guerrilla leader William Quantrill. Like Cantrell, Quantrill was born in Ohio, taught school in Lawrence, KS, became a guerrilla fighter on the Confederate side and burned Lawrence to the ground. However, the Confederacy eventually distanced itself from him and later revoked his commission and disowned him, because of his band's propensity for executing prisoners, massacring civilians, looting and raping. The real Quantrill died not at the hands of "Bob Seton" but during an ambush by a Union cavalry unit. Unable to escape on account of a skittish horse, he was shot in the back and paralyzed from the chest down. He was brought by wagon to Louisville, KY, and taken to the military prison hospital, located on the north side of Broadway at 10th Street. He died from his wounds on June 6, 1865, at the age of 27. See more »

Goofs

Early in the picture, Franklin Pierce is president (1853-1857) and Kansas is not yet a state (admitted 1861). Angus McCloud announces he is going to Dodge City. Dodge City was founded in 1872. See more »

Quotes

Andrew 'Doc' Grunch: [Finishes shaving the judge] That'll be two bits.
Judge Buckner: Why no, my good man. I'll be settling with you weekly... no, make that monthly!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Videoclub (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Gwine to Rune All Night (De Camptown Races)
(uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Played at Cantrell's Camp
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"We've got a saying down in Texas, ma'am. . ."
14 March 2005 | by See all my reviews

John Wayne's first "A" film at Republic is a good story carried by a strong cast. One year after Stagecoach, he still takes second billing after Claire Trevor in their third of four pairings together. They worked extremely well together, and remained close friends for the rest of their lives. Walter Pigeon is given the part of the heavy, Roy Rogers gives the finest acting performance of his entire career, and veteran character actors Gabby Hayes and Marjorie Main round out the cast. Veteran director Raoul Walsh keeps the story moving and gives emotional depth to the characters that was unusual for Republic films at the time.

Set in pre-Civil War Kansas, when both Northerners and Southerners were scrambling to settle Kansas and decide its political position on slavery, the story revolves around an uneducated Texas cowboy, Bob Seton (Wayne), who finds himself in conflict with local schoolteacher Will Cantrell (Pidgeon) over both the job of Marshall in Lawrence, Kansas, and the hand of the local Southern banker's daughter, Miss Mary McCloud (Trevor). When Seton appears to have won not only the job, but also Mary's heart, Cantrell decides that the way to power lies through lawlessness, and forms a band of freebooters who ravage both Northern and Southern settlements, causing destruction and terror in Kansas.

While the film is not totally historically accurate, it does do a good job of portraying the viciousness and ruthlessness of pre-Civil War Kansas. It is told from the Northern point of view, and is a nice contrast to Errol Flynn's Santa Fe Trail, which came out the same year (1940) and portrays similar events in "bleeding Kansas" from a Southern point of view.

Part-Western, part-Civil War movie, Dark Command is one of Wayne's best early starring roles. Fans of his, or of the genre's will not be disappointed.


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