Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Fighting Kentuckian (1949)

Once Oliver Hardy hooked up with Stan Laurel he never worked solo again with one exception, the John Wayne colonial film The Fighting Kentuckian. Hardy plays Wayne’s sidekick and he’s good enough with the action and drama it makes you wonder what might have happened had he been free to do things away from Laurel.

The film is set in Alabama not long before it is to become a state. Wayne and Hardy have just left the army and end up in a small town run by man who has designs on taking all the land in the territory. The short version of what happens is the pair finds themselves in the middle of the land grab which will displace a large number of ex-soldiers from Napoleon’s army who were given a land grant. Things become even more complicated as the pair are mistaken for land surveyors. There is romance, action and a plot to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from a safe.

A very plot heavy tale (I’m still not straight which bad guy was which) this is a film that sucks you in and drags you along. My dad and I stumbled upon the film on cable just as it was starting and we fell into it. We were just checking during a commercial on a TV series but we ended up stay to the end. An old school Hollywood film it entertains more than it has any right to. While the romance gets the short end of the stick in the second half of the film, Wayne’s love interest has nothing much to do, you do feel the sparks when the couple are together.

As I said at the top the film is notable for having Oliver Hardy in it. While it’s obvious he can handle the comedy it was less obvious how he’d be with the action and drama. By the time he and Wayne are set upon by a tavern full of bad guys there is no doubt he can kick some serious ass. He’s good enough that even my dad was shaking his head about what else he might have done.

This is a solid little historical action romance and is recommended.

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