Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shakespeare was from Texas

Dark Command. Dir. Raoul Walsh. Perf. John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Walter Pidgeon, Roy Rogers, and George “Gabby” Hayes. 1940. DVD. Maple Pictures, 2007.

John Wayne's Character in Dark Command suggests that he was, at least.

In the film, the John Wayne Character, Bob Seton (No relation to Macbeth's Bob Seyton), displays an almost Lyle-Lovett-like devotion to his home state of Texas. And he continually spouts aphorisms, prefacing them with "We got a saying down in Texas—" nearly every time.

At the end of the film, Lawrence, Kansas, is burning, but the good guys (I hope this isn't a spoiler) have pulled through, and the male and female lead have (Warning! Spoiler approaching!) found love.

Shakespeare comes in just once—in the last thirty seconds of the film. The female lead's younger brother, Fletcher "Fletch" McCloud (yes, that is Roy Rogers), who is recovering from his injuries, provides a quote from—as well as the title of—All's Well that Ends Well. For Bob Seton, it's irresistible:

"Shakespeare, huh? Well, he musta come from Texas. We been saying that down there for years."

And, with that, the western comes to a close. The sun never sets on Shakespeare—except when the cowboys are riding off into that sunset.

Note: Scott Simmon guided me to this Shakespearean / Western moment. He uses part of the quote from the John Wayne character as the epigraph for the chapter on Shakespeare in Western Films in The Invention of the Western Film: A Cultural History of the Genre's First Half-Century.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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