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A Movie A Day: DAKOTA (1945)
Speaking of politics, where we’re going there are only two parties: the quick & the dead!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] Today we follow Walter Brennan, leaving Gary Cooper behind and trading him in for The Duke. In the years between this movie and THE COWBOY AND THE LADY he turned into the Walter Brennan I know by sight as well voice. And it ended up being a good connection because Brennan makes this movie. It also shares some similiarites with COWBOY AND THE LADY in that it’s not a full fledged western, but a love story.

And not a dramatic love story, but a kind of light romantic comedy of a love story that involves a cowboy eloping with a wealthy woman. In this case that woman is Vera Ralston, a step down from yesterday’s Merle Oberon, in my opinion, a ditzy airhead blonde. Her father owns a railroad and the film opens with a stagecoach chase as the angry father speeds after Wayne and Ralston, even shooting at them. It’s kind of slapstick, actually, all the characters going radically overboard. In some cases that’s a good thing, like Brennan old crotchety bastard Captain Bounce, running his old creaky ship upriver as Wayne is tricked into settling in Dakota instead of California. You see, Vera Ralston overheard her daddy talking about extending the railroad up there… and she also stole $20,000 and the plan is to buy up as much available property as they can because it’s dirt cheap and will be worth a small fortune when the railroad moves in.

They’re shadowed by the evil bastard of the movie, a landowner in Fargo named Jim Bender, played by Ward Bond, who senses something is up, knowing this girl is the daughter of the railroad owner. He also a big guy/evil fucker sidekick that looks like a young Anthony Quinn, but is in actuality Mike Mazurki. You need to have someone that can throw a solid punch at The Duke, right? Bender figures out the railroad is coming through on makes a giant contract with all the local farmers that looks good on the surface (something about pay fair price for their property if they can’t make their crop quota), but being the villain of the movie he’s, of course, rigging the game. He sets fire to all the crops ensuring no one can make their quota and he gets their land at pennies on the dollar. The whole time he’s playing a cat and mouse game with John Wayne and Vera Ralston, neither side willing to take the other out. Bender is held back by fear of wrath from Ralston’s father and Wayne is held back because… well, he’s the good guy and he can’t kill a man just because he’s a dickhead. It’s a 1945 Republic Pictures western, you can’t have the good guy killing all willy-nilly, afterall.

Wayne’s in fine form here, but Ralston plays her character so over the top that it gets eye-rolling. Seriously, she derails the whole picture. She doesn’t make it unwatchable, but that’s not for lack of trying. She has relatively few scenes compared with the other co-stars, which is a smart move by director Joseph Kane. Walter Brennan is the reason to watch this movie. His chemistry with John Wayne is as gruff, but still somehow loving as his work in RIO BRAVO. He also treats his old boat like his old lady, arguing with it, yelling at it, insulting it, cooing it. It’s awesome. Final Thoughts: This one wasn’t terribly amazing, a minor movie in Wayne’s filmography, but if you dig on Walter Brennan you have to watch this movie at some point. It’s not insulting, it’s not bad, it’s not dull, but it felt very light and fluffy, you know? It’s not the rib-sticking heavy meal that RIO BRAVO or THE COWBOYS were, but has enough charisma that it’s a recommend. Just ignore the dumb blonde when she comes in to say something stupid every few minutes.

The schedule for the next 7 days is: Saturday, September 20th: RED RIVER (1948) Sunday, September 21st: INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE/TERMINAL STATION (1954) Monday, September 22nd: THE SEARCH (1948) Tuesday, September 23rd: ACT OF VIOLENCE (1948) Wednesday, September 24th: HOUDINI (1953) Thursday, September 25th: MONEY FROM HOME (1953) Friday, September 26th: PAPA’S DELICATE CONDITION (1963) Tomorrow we’re in for a treat. It’s another Wayne movie, Howard Hawks’ well known cattle drive flick RED RIVER! See you folks then! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady

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