ALLEGHENY UPRISING. RKO Radio Pictures, 1939. Claire Trevor, John Wayne, George Sanders, Brian Donlevy, Wilfrid Lawson, Robert Barrat, Moroni Olsen, Eddie Quillan, Chill Wills. Director: William A. Seiter.

   If you’ve ever wanted to see John Wayne sporting a coonskin cap and carrying a rifle, then Allegheny Uprising may be the movie for you. If that doesn’t sound like something you’d go in for, then there’s probably no real reason for you to watch this rather dated, and poorly edited, RKO film set after the end of the French and Indian War.

   Wayne, not yet the movie star he was yet to become, portrays the historical figure James Smith, the leader of the Black Boys Rebellion in 1765 in which some Pennsylvania colonists rose up against their British overlords. In many ways, the British title for the film, The First Rebel, does the movie more justice. (Incidentally, the film did not do well in a Great Britain. No surprise there!)

   Although there’s quite a bit of American patriotic fervor embedded into the script, Allegheny Uprising ends up feeling stale. It’s almost as if you’re watching an historical reenactment rather than a cinematic representation of an historical event. That’s not to say that the exceedingly talented George Sanders isn’t well cast as a British captain, or that Brian Donlevy can’t play a conniving villain, it’s just that the whole thing seems so formulaic, as if no one in the studio fully had their heart and soul invested in the project.

   With the notable except of Wayne, who looks as if he did his best to transform what would have been an otherwise completely forgettable Revolutionary War era film into what I’ll grudgingly admit is a somewhat entertaining costumer.