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The Fighting Kentuckian Reviews

Wayne, who produced this box-office winner for Republic, is a member of a Kentucky regiment returning from New Orleans, where Andrew Jackson has beaten the British army. In Mobile, Alabama, he meets lovely Vera Ralston (wife of Republic Studio boss Herbert J. Yates), and stays behind with sidekick Hardy. Ralston is the daughter of Haas, a French general who fought with Napoleon and who has led an exiled contingent of Frenchmen to settle at Demopolis, where they occupy four townships; the industrious, peace-bent French have made homes in the rich wilderness, land coveted by Howard and Withers. Wayne resigns from his regiment and begins to woo Ralston, but Haas quietly informs him that she must marry one of her own kind. Wayne won't take no for an answer and tries to obtain work, discovering Howard's plot to take over the French lands while pretending to be a surveyor. He is jailed, but his cell door is left open so that he can be shot by Withers while escaping. Through a ruse, Howard is killed instead by his partner Withers, who then leads a full-scale attack by his riverboat cutthroats against the French settlement. Wayne aids the Frenchmen, but they are hopelessly outnumbered. Just when the river men appear to break through, Hardy, who has gone for help, arrives with Wayne's regiment of Kentucky riflemen, who make short work of the river men and polish off Withers and his cronies, too. Wayne receives Haas's undying gratitude and the hand of his daughter, while the Kentuckians continue their journey northward to home. The action is brisk and Wayne is a one-man army battling evil. Withers, of course, is the evil one, a man you love to hate. Howard, who had competed for Ralston's hand, does good work as the good-bad guy, and Hardy provides a lot of laughs as the bumbling sidekick in one of his few roles without Stan Laurel. Ralston does her usual overacting, but Haas is moving and convincing as the French officer with only memories of glory, a far cry from the murky film noir productions he produced and appeared in with such blonde vamps as Cleo Moore. Dorn excels as the noble one-armed second-in-command to Haas. Fix, a pal of Wayne--who appeared in most of the Duke's films--plays a Withers henchman at his backstabbing best. Though this is a formula film, Waggner's direction is top-notch, aided greatly by the sharp lensing of master cinematographer Garmes.