Dakota (1945): Joseph Kane’s Adventure, Starring John Wayne, Script by Carl Foreman (Before Being Blacklisted)

Carl Foreman is the author of the original story upon which Joseph Kane’s “Dakota,” an odd John Wayne vehicle (before he became a star) was based. Wayne stars as ex-soldier John Devlin, an adventurer who elopes with Sandy (Vera Hruba Raltson), the daughter of the railroad tycoon Marko Poli (Hugo Haas).
Grade: C+ (** out of *****)
Dakota (poster).jpg

Theatrical poster to Dakota (1945)
A suffocating, irascible man, Poli is less concerned with retrieving his daughter than regaining the money she has obtained from selling one of his Gainsborough paintings.
With a will of her own, the new bride decides they should settle down in North Dakota, instead of California; she heard her father saying that the railroad would be extended to Dakota. Sandy plans to buy options on land and then sell it at a profit to the railroad. Initially, Devlin is against her idea but he consents.
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On the way to their new destination, Devlin is relieved of their capital, when bandits board the riverboat on which they are passengers. Reaching the town of Fargo, Devlin takes the side of the honest wheat farmers against Jim Bender (Ward Bond) and Bigtree Collins (Mike Mazurki), suave villains responsible for his loss of his money, who have been terrorizing the framers into giving up their land.
A former champion ice skater, Vera Hruba Ralston was Republic’s new leading lady. Here she playing a Czech refugee from the Nazis (in a part similar to the one Sigrid Gurie played in John Wayne starrer, “Three Faces West.” “Dakota” was her first venture into the big league. She appeared with Wayne again in “The Fighting Kentuckian,” in which she was billed as Vera Raltson (dropping Hruba from her name). Ralston married Republic head, Herbert J. Yates, in 1952, but never became a star.
John Wayne is appealing, but the plot is boring and contrived. Poorly helmed by Kane, “Dakota” further suffers from fake exteriors of studio sound stages.


John Wayne and Vera Ralston in Dakota
John Wayne as John Devlin
Vera Ralston as Sandy Poli (Devlin)
Walter Brennan as Capt. Bounce of the Riverbird
Ward Bond as Jim Bender
Mike Mazurki as Bigtree Collins
Ona Munson as Jersey Thomas
Olive Blakeney as Mrs. Stowe
Hugo Haas as Marko Poli
Nick Stewart as Nicodemus (as Nicodemus Stewart)
Paul Fix as Carp
Grant Withers as Slagin
Robert Livingston as Lieutenant
Olin Howland as Devlin’s driver (as Olin Howlin)
Pierre Watkin as Wexton Geary
Robert Barrat as Anson Stowe (as Robert H. Barrat)
Jonathan Hale as Col. Wordin
Robert Blake as Little Boy (as Bobby Blake)
Paul Hurst as Captain Spotts
Eddy Waller as Stagecoach Driver
Sarah Padden as Mrs. Plummer
Jack La Rue as Suade
George Cleveland as Mr. Plummer
Selmer Jackson as Dr. Judson
Claire Du Brey as Wahtonka
Roy Barcroft as Poli’s Driver


Produced, directed by Joseph Kane
Screenplay by Howard Estabrook, Lawrence Hazard, story by Carl Foreman
Music by Walter Scharf
Cinematography Jack A. Marta
Edited by Fred Allen

Production and distribution company: Republic Pictures

Release date: December 25, 1945

Running time: 82 minutes