The Fighting Kentuckian

The Fighting Kentuckian is a 1949 American Western film (with comic overtones) directed by George Waggner starring John Wayne, Vera Ralston, Philip Dorn, Oliver Hardy, Marie Windsor, John Howard, Hugo Haas, Grant Withers and Odette Myrtil.

The Fighting Kentuckian
Original cinema poster
Directed byGeorge Waggner
Produced byJohn Wayne
Written byGeorge Waggner
StarringJohn Wayne
Vera Ralston
Philip Dorn
Oliver Hardy
Marie Windsor
John Howard
Hugo Haas
Grant Withers
Odette Myrtil
Music byGeorge Antheil
CinematographyLee Garmes
Edited byRichard L. Van Enger
Republic Pictures
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
  • September 15, 1949 (1949-09-15) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,550,000[1]


Returning home from the War of 1812, John Breen, a Kentucky militiaman, falls in love with French exile Fleurette de Marchand (Vera Ralston). He discovers a plot to steal the land that Fleurette's exiles plan to settle on. Breen is mistaken for a land surveyor and is presented with a theodolite and sets out with Willie (Oliver Hardy) to look as if they are surveying (they do not actually know what to do).

A further pretence occurs when Breen sits on stage with a group of fiddlers and feigns being able to play.

Throughout the film, Breen's soldiers sing:

Only six hundred miles more to go
Only six hundred miles more to go
And if we can just get lucky
We will end up in Kentucky
Only six hundred miles more to go

When the song is first heard, there are eight hundred miles to go (the tune is She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain).

Historical setting

The story is set in Alabama in 1818, including the city of Demopolis, which was founded by Bonapartists. The Bonapartists had been exiled from France after the defeat of Napoleon I at the Battle of Waterloo. Congress authorized the sale of four townships in the Alabama Territory in March 1817 at two dollars per acre, and Marengo County was created on February 7, 1818 from lands that had been taken from the Choctaw Nation. It was named after Spinetta Marengo, Italy where Napoleon defeated Austria in 1800 in the Battle of Marengo. The county seat, Linden, Alabama, was named after Hohenlinden, Bavaria where Napoleon won another victory against the Austrians. The Bonapartist colony did not succeed overall, in part due to surveyance issues that contribute to the plot of the film and in part due to practical difficulties in establishing the vineyards.[2][3][4]


Production notes

This is one of only five times that Hardy worked without partner Stan Laurel after they'd teamed up as Laurel and Hardy. Hardy also appeared with Harry Langdon in Zenobia (1939), and in three cameos: Riding High, Barnum & Ringling, Inc. and Choo-Choo! It was the only time that Hardy appeared in a film with John Wayne, though the two had worked together onstage a year earlier in a touring charity production of What Price Glory? starring Wayne, Ward Bond, and Maureen O'Hara, and directed by John Ford.[5] Re-broadcast by Arte 1 February 2017, the film credits celebrated composer Georges Antheil (1900-1959) with the music (background score including among things stirring "variations" on the Marseillaise).

See also


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