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The Fighting Kentuckian

The Fighting Kentuckian

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Following Napoleon’s Waterloo defeat and the exile of his officers and their families from France, the U.S.Congress, in 1817, granted four townships in the Alabama territory to the exiles. Led by Colonel Georges Geraud and General Paul DeMarchand, the struggling settlers have made a thriving community, called Demopolis, by the summer of 1819. On a shopping trip to Mobile, Fleurette DeMarchand, the General’s daughter, meets John Breen, a Kentucky rifleman, who detours his regiment through Demopolis to court her. But Fleurette, despite her wish to marry for love, must bow to the needs of her fellow exiles, who are at the mercy of the rich and wealthy Blake Randolph, and who wants her as his bride. But John Breen has no intention of allowing that to happen, resigns from his regiment, and takes up the fight against Randolph and his hirelings.

STARS: John Wayne, Vera Ralston, Philip Dorn

100 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 1949 | Color


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Big Bad John rides again
This is the movie that made John Wayne a millionaire. When Republic pictures agreed to make the film,studio head Herbert J. Yates insisted that his favorite leading lady, Vera Hruba Ralston be given the female lead. John protested until Yates agreed he could form a production company and own a piece of Wake of The Red Witch,his next outing. John did and Wake gave him over a million dollars in salary. I guess he should have thanked Vera for his success. Anyway,Kentuckian is a very good film with the Republic stock company backing John and Oliver Hardy playing his sidekick. I always liked Vera Ralston and thought she looked good in period films. She actually looks like portraits of women of the era rather than a conventionally movie star. Republic excelled in action scenes and the final stampede of wagons and horses is much more exciting than they do nowadays.

"Come on, you Kentucks!"
This is my favorite of John Wayne's b/w movies. The movie is based on a little-known fact: that the town of Demopolis, Alabama was founded by former officers and enlisted men of the Napoleonic French army, and their families. And, the Duke plays John Breen; a member of the Second Kentucky Regiment, just returning from a campaign against pro-British Creek Indians, during the War of 1812.
His outfit has marched to the port city of Mobile, to see if they can get a steamboat ride home. But, evidently, they didn't have enough money for the snobbish taste of Blake Randolph (the local shipping magnate). So, they have to resume traveling home on foot. A fact that the regiment keeps reminding the viewer of, via "...that g.d. song" (as my father so hilariously called it)!
Enter Fleurette De Marchand (Vera Ralston); the bored debutante daughter of Gen. De Marchand. She lets Breen steal her fiancé's carriage, just to perk up a dull afternoon. And, Breen--who doesn't want to wait until he's discharged in Kentucky, to make a fresh start--now has another reason to stay in Alabama. *Wink-wink! Nudge-nudge!*
But, as fate would have it, Fleurette's fiancé IS Blake Randolph! And, what's worse: he's in cahoots with George Hayden, the crooked boss of the riverboat men. *Think "union racketeer." *
Their scheme is to let the French develop the wrong land, then steal it out from under them. But, Breen--with the help of Willie Paine (Oliver Hardy, who's surprisingly good without Stan Laurel)--ultimately thwarts the scheme. And, following a great military showdown, wins the girl, as well.
In short, this is a great blend of romance, action, and comedy. And, just remember: "Only 600 miles more to go(More to go!). Only 600 miles more to go(MORE TO GO!). "

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