Dark Command (1940)

Before the Pattern

John Wayne ruined the western for me. The whole idea of the western until Leone was in constant repetition, walking the same route every time so that subtleties could be emphasised. Since everything else was given, we could focus on the smallest things.

Real art in moviemaking is in picking the right things. Real art in movie-watching is recognising and working with those smallest things. At just this time, John Ford counselled Wayne in developing his random cadence: a few words, then a pause in an unexpected spot before continuing.

It first appeared in “Stagecoach”. It was used in place of interesting subtleties and was remarkably successful — so much so that all news announcers employ it to make their reading sound interesting. News is now a bad western.

This film is the last where John Wayne tried real acting, the kind that uses real language patterns.

Posted in 2003

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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