John Wayne's second effort as star/producer (after "Angel and the Badman", in 1947), "The Fighting Kentuckian" is a VERY enjoyable tale, set in 1818 Alabama, of coonskin-capped Wayne, part of the Kentucky militia, falling for French immigrant Vera Ralston (in her second film with Duke), and discovering a plot to swindle the French community (composed of ex-officers of Napoleon, and their families) out of their land, by aristocrat John Howard and ruthless river boss Grant Withers.
What truly makes this film 'special' for me is Wayne's sidekick, portrayed by the legendary Oliver Hardy, of 'Laurel and Hardy' fame. Hardy, while a friend of Wayne, had only worked 'solo' once in a feature film in over twenty years (1939's "Zenobia"), and it took a LOT of coaxing (and Stan Laurel's 'blessing'), to get him to accept the role...and what a pleasure he is, to watch! Wayne and Hardy have a rich, warm chemistry, and the rotund comedian, with his infectious smile and Georgia drawl, makes even minor scenes (like swapping recipes with Ralston's mother) a joy.
With a first-rate supporting cast including Philip Dorn, Hugo Haas, Wayne 'regulars' Paul Fix, Jack Pennick, and Hank Worden, and Marie Windsor (who looks eerily like John Howard, in my opinion!), "The Fighting Kentuckian" is, despite the 'pans' you'll see in some of the reviews posted, one of my favorite John Wayne films...He was never more charming than you'll find him, here!