GenreDrama, Romance, Western Music directorVictor Young LanguageEnglish
WriterF. Hugh Herbert, Lionel Houser, Grover Jones, Jan Isbell Fortune Release dateApril 15, 1940 (1940-04-15) Based onA novel
by W.R. Burnett CastClaire Trevor (Miss Mary McCloud), John Wayne (Bob Seton), Walter Pidgeon (William 'Will' Cantrell), Roy Rogers (Fletcher 'Fletch' McCloud), George 'Gabby' Hayes (Andrew 'Doc' Grunch (as George Hayes)), Porter Hall (Angus McCloud) Similar moviesKansas Raiders (1950)
Dark command 1940
Dark Command is a 1940 Western film starring Claire Trevor, John Wayne and Walter Pidgeon loosely based on Quantrill's Raiders during the American Civil War. Directed by Raoul Walsh from the novel by W.R. Burnett, Dark Command is the only film in which western icons John Wayne and Roy Rogers appear together, and was the only film Wayne and Raoul Walsh made together since Walsh discovered Wayne working as a prop mover, renamed him, and gave him his first leading role in the widescreen western The Big Trail a decade before.
The film also features George "Gabby" Hayes as Wayne's character's sidekick.
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Art Direction by John Victor Mackay.
Mary McCloud (Claire Trevor) marries a seemingly peaceful Kansas schoolteacher William Cantrell (Walter Pidgeon), before finding out that he harbors a dark secret. He is actually an outlaw leader who attacks both sides in the Civil War for his own profit. After capturing a wagon loaded with Confederate uniforms, he decides to pass himself off as a Confederate officer. Her naive, idealistic brother Fletcher (Roy Rogers) joins what he believes is a Rebel guerrilla force. Meanwhile, Cantrell's stern, but loving mother (Marjorie Main) refuses to accept any of her son's ill-gotten loot.
A former suitor of Mary's, Union supporter Bob Seton (John Wayne), is captured by Cantrell and scheduled for execution. After being rescued by a disillusioned Fletcher McCloud, Seton and Mary Cantrell race to the town of Lawrence (site of an actual infamous Quantrill-led massacre) to warn the residents of an impending attack by Cantrell's gang.
Claire Trevor as Mary McCloud
John Wayne as Bob Seton
Walter Pidgeon as William "Will" Cantrell
Roy Rogers as Fletcher "Fletch" McCloud
George "Gabby" Hayes as Andrew "Doc" Grunch
Porter Hall as Angus McCloud
Marjorie Main as Mrs. Cantrell, aka Mrs. Adams
Raymond Walburn as Judge Buckner
Joe Sawyer as Bushropp (guerrilla)
Helen MacKellar as Mrs. Hale
J. Farrell MacDonald as Dave (gunrunner)
Trevor Bardette as Mr. Hale
Director Raoul Walsh had discovered John Wayne in 1929 when Wayne was a 23-year-old prop man named Marion "Duke" Morrison. Walsh was reading a biography of General "Mad Anthony" Wayne at the time and gave the prop boy the last name "Wayne" after casting him as the lead in The Big Trail (1930), a 70 mm Grandeur widescreen epic shot on location all across the West. Dark Command remains the only other film upon which both Walsh and Wayne collaborated during their lengthy careers.