AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Man of Conquest
Alternate Title: Wagons Westward
Director: George Nicholls Jr. (Dir)
Release Date:   15 May 1939
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 28 Apr 1939
Production Date:   6 Jan--13 Mar 1939
Duration (in mins):   96-97
Duration (in reels):   11
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Cast:   Richard Dix (Sam Houston)  
    Gail Patrick (Margaret Lea)  
    Edward Ellis (Andrew Jackson)  
    Joan Fontaine (Eliza Allen)  
    Victor Jory (William B. Travis)  
    Robert Barrat (David Crockett)  
    George Hayes (Lannie Upchurch)  
    Ralph Morgan (Stephen Austin)  
    Robert Armstrong (James Bowie)  
    C. Henry Gordon (Santa Ana)  
    Janet Beecher (Mrs. Lea)  
    Pedro de Cordoba (Oolooteka)  
    Max Terhune (Deaf Smith)  
    Kathleen Lockhart (Mrs. Allen)  
    Ferris Taylor (Jonas Lea)  
    Leon Ames (John Hoskins)  
    Francis Sayles (President James Van Buren)  

Summary: After spending much of his youth among the friendly Cherokee Indians, Sam Houston enlists with General Andrew Jackson and is severly wounded while leading a charge at the battle of Horseshoe Bend. Jackson commends Houston for his gallantry and a lifelong friendship is formed. Soon after, Jackson is elected to the Presidency and Houston becomes governor of Tennessee. On the eve of Houston's reelection, he marries Eliza Allen, but the demur Eliza is unable to adjust to life as the wife of a boisterous politician, and she leaves Sam. The scandal of their divorce forces Sam to resign as governor and sends him back to the Cherokees, accompanied by his friend, Lannie Upchurch. As Ambassador to the Cherokee Nation, Houston goes to Washington to protest the government's treatment of the Indians, and there he meets Margaret Lea at the Presidential Ball. After Jackson accedes to his demands, Houston joins Margaret on a stagecoach headed for Texas. On their way West, the two fall in love, but Houston foresakes his love for Margaret for his quest to free Texas from Mexico. In Texas, Houston is opposed by the peace-loving colonist Stephen Austin, who refuses to enter into war with Mexico. When word comes that Santa Ana is marching his army across Texas, killing and pillaging all in his path, Austin realizes that war is inevitable, and Jackson persuades Houston to fight for the statehood of Texas. Appointed head of the army, Houston leads his handful of troops to relieve the garrison at the Alamo. Arriving too late, Houston retreats before the advancing Mexican army and, at San Jacinto, launches the strategic attack that routs the Mexican forces and frees Texas. As Texas is admitted into the Union, a dying Jackson praises his old friend for scoring a victory for the principles of Jacksonian democracy. 

Production Company: Republic Pictures Corp.  
Distribution Company: Republic Pictures Corp.  
Director: George Nicholls Jr. (Dir)
  Kenneth Holmes (Asst dir)
Producer: Sol C. Siegel (Assoc prod)
Writer: Wells Root (Scr)
  E. E. Paramore Jr. (Scr)
  Jan Fortune (Scr)
  Harold Shumate (Orig story)
  Wells Root (Orig story)
Photography: Joseph H. August (Photog)
  Ernest Miller (Photog)
  Frank Redman (Fill-in photog)
Art Direction: John Victor Mackay (Art dir)
Film Editor: Edward Mann (Film ed)
  Murray Seldeen (Supv film ed)
Costumes: Adele Palmer (Cost)
  Edith Head (Gowns)
Music: Victor Young (Mus score)
Sound: Richard Tyler (Sd rec)
  Charles L. Lootens (Sd dir)
Special Effects: Howard Lydecker (Spec eff)
Production Misc: Al Wilson (Prod mgr)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Republic Pictures Corp. 15/5/1939 dd/mm/yyyy LP8942

Physical Properties: Sd:
  b&w:

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Historical
 
Subjects (Major): Sam Houston
  Texas
  United States--History--Mexican War, 1846-1848
 
Subjects (Minor): Alamo (San Antonio, TX)
  Ambassadors
  Stephen Austin
  Balls (Parties)
  James Bowie
  Cherokee Indians
  Davy Crockett
  Divorce
  Elections
  Governors
  Indians of North America
  Andrew Jackson
  Patriotism
  Politicians
  Romance
  Santa Ana (CA)
  Scandal
  Tennessee
  United States--History
  Washington (D.C.)

Note: Sam Houston (1793-1863) was an American general and political leader and the president of the Republic of Texas from 1836-38 and 1841-44. The production credits were missing from the print viewed. The working title of this film was Wagons Westward . An early HR production chart lists Ernest Miller as photographer, although he is not credited on reviews. According to a news item in HR , Max Terhune replaced Guinn Williams in the role of Deaf Smith because Williams was working on the Warner Bros. film Juarez . News items in HR reveal the following members of the production were plagued by various illnesses. When C. Henry Gordon, who replaced Victor Jory in the role of "William Travis" because Jory was busy working on Juarez , fell ill with appendicitis, Jory stepped in to take over the part. Gordon appeared in the completed film as "Santa Ana" (whose actual name was General Antonio López de Santa Anna).
       Richard Dix, who played "Sam Houston," fractured two bones during a fight scene, forcing a week delay in the production. Photographer Joseph H. August was hospitalized during the last week of filming and was replaced by Frank Redmond. The film was shot on location at Sonora, CA. At the time of its production, this picture was the costliest film Republic had made and was awarded the most expensive advertising campaign in the studio's history. Other news items in HR add that after the film was released, Republic was sued by author Marquis James, who claimed that the studio had plagiarized his book The Raven , a biography of Sam Houston.
       The film was nominated for Academy Awards in the Art Direction, Music (Original Score) and Sound Recording categories. In 1917, Fox made The Conquerer , which was also based on the life of Sam Houston, starring William Farnum and directed by R. A. Walsh (see above). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   7 Apr 39   p. 3.
Film Daily   10 Apr 39   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Nov 38   p. 2, 3
Hollywood Reporter   6 Jan 39   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jan 39   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jan 39   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Jan 39   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Feb 39   p. 5-6.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Feb 39   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Feb 39   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Feb 39   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Mar 39   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Mar 39   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Mar 39   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Apr 39   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Apr 39   pp. 5-12.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Feb 40   p. 5.
Motion Picture Daily   2 May 39   pp. 4-5.
Motion Picture Daily   10 May 39   pp. 4-5.
Motion Picture Herald   28 Jan 39   p. 40.
Motion Picture Herald   15 Apr 39   p. 57.
New York Times   28 Apr 39   p. 31.
Variety   21 Apr 39   p. 25.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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