Entry 39: When Jesse Met Maria

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Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. Directed by William Beaudine. Written by Carl K. Hittleman.

Release Date: April 10, 1866.

Available here.

It’s Halloween! There isn’t a lot of Civil War horror stuff (unless you count Gods and Generals! Zing!), but there is this little gem about one of Reconstruction’s most enduring figures, Jesse James. He played a big, sorta weird role in my childhood (more on that in a future post), so I’ve always known about this bizarre movie but never sought it out. Imagine my surprise when I found the whole thing on YouTube. Even more amazing, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter exceeded even my lowest expectations. But even in this campy Ed Wood-esque nightmare, there are still interesting elements of Civil War memory and James’s controversial legacy.

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Entry 22: John Wayne [almost] Saves Lawrence, Kansas

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Dark Command. Directed by Raoul Walsh. Written by Grover Jones, Lionel Houser, F. Hugh Herbert, and Jan Fortune. Based on the novel, The Dark Command: A Kansas Iliad, by W. R. Burnett.

Release Date: April 15, 1940.

The McWhirter family is cancelling its Amazon Prime subscription, so I’m racing through a handful of Civil War movies I’d placed in my queue. The Conspirator was up first but the next few reach back further into Hollywood history. Today’s movie, Dark Command, is an interesting case because it focuses on Kansas and especially William Quantrill (which it mistakenly calls “Cantrell”). It also stars a young John Wayne and his charisma propels the film. Unfortunately, his presence also ensures this is really just a Western grafted onto a Civil War story. Read More