6.8/10
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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.

Director:

Raoul Walsh

Writers:

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Claire Trevor ... Mary McCloud
John Wayne ... Bob Seton
Walter Pidgeon ... William 'Will' Cantrell
Roy Rogers ... Fletch McCloud
George 'Gabby' Hayes ... Doc Grunch (as George Hayes)
Porter Hall ... Angus McCloud
Marjorie Main ... Mrs. Cantrell / Mrs. Adams
Raymond Walburn ... Judge Buckner
Joe Sawyer ... Bushropp (as Joseph Sawyer)
Helen MacKellar ... Mrs. Hale
J. Farrell MacDonald ... Dave
Trevor Bardette ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 April 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Comando Negro See more »

Filming Locations:

Agoura, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

Republic Pictures (I) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA "High Fidelity" Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Marjorie Main plays the mother of Will Cantrell, played by Walter Pidgeon, but she was only seven years older. See more »

Goofs

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. The Colt is the 1873 model so it could not have been in the Civil War. See more »

Quotes

Fletcher 'Fletch' McCloud: Ever hear what William Shakespeare said - All's well that ends well.
Bob 'Shortcut' Seton: Shakespeare, huh? He must've been from Texas. We been sayin' that down there for years!
[last lines]
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 »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in That's Action (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Battle Hymn of the Republic
(uncredited)
Music by William Steffe (circa 1856)
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe (1961)
Played as part of the score when the Civil War starts
See more »

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User Reviews

Poor as a history lesson; good as a movie
25 April 2000 | by mensa3See all my reviews

"Dark Command" is, of course, one of the Essential Westerns, since it puts up Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes and JOHN WAYNE on the screen at the same time--not to mention teaming up the Duke with Claire Trevor, his lady from "Stagecoach." It's also a transitional film, mixing in elements (and actors) from the long line of Republic horse operas of the 1930s with themes, leads, and a director more in line with the "A" pictures of its day. The real star is the heavy, Cantrell (Walter Pidgeon), who begins as a schoolteacher and ends as a cynical partisan leader with no real allegiance. John Wayne is no slouch here, but his role is too much the conventional good guy to allow him to outsize Pidgeon. Roy Rogers actually gets to kill a guy, and Gabby Hayes plays something more than a caricature.

Now for the history: There wasn't really a time warp in 1861 Kansas that allowed people to get Colt Model 1873 revolvers, which everyone in the movie except Claire Trevor seems to pack. Sergio Leone got away with it in "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," though, so I will forgive Mr. Walsh. Cantrell is VERY loosely based on William Quantrill, a Confederate guerrilla leader who actually burned Lawrence, KS, during the Civil War. Thirty years after "Dark Command," John Wayne would play a former member of Quantrill's Raiders in "True Grit."


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