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The Jayhawkers (1959)

Jeff Chandler , Fess Parker , Melvin Frank  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jeff Chandler, Fess Parker, Henry Silva, Nicole Maurey, Herbert Rudley
  • Directors: Melvin Frank
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Olive Films
  • DVD Release Date: April 24, 2012
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00782O7Y8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,110 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

In the maelstrom of Pre-Civil War Kansas, a government agent infiltrates the vigilante group called the Jayhawkers. In this visually evocative western, Jeff Chandler (Merrill's Marauders) plays Luke Darcy; a ruthless man who wants more than what life is willing to offer. Starting out as anti-slavery activists, Darcy uses the Jayhawkers' origin to support his growing power. Opposing his unscrupulous bid for control of the region is Cam (Fess Parker, TV's Davy Crocket), an ex-convict who knows that Darcy was responsible for the death of his wife while he was in prison. Henry Silva and Nicole Maurey co-star in this action-packed western. Co-produced, co-written and directed by Melvin Frank (Knock on Wood).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alternate Universe Kansas March 29, 2001
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This is a hard film to review. It's a pretty good movie, a good western... but as a film about the Jayhawkers in 1850's Kansas it's so wildly inaccurate and far from any resemblance to history that it almost defies belief.
Fess Parker is good as the brooding, undecided not-quite-outlaw, and the rest of the cast is fine as well. The moral ambiguity is well done too. It's just the scenario that's the problem. This stuff just didn't happen, and in places that didn't exist.
They have Fess Parker's character having been settled in Kansas before the Mexican War when Kansas wasn't really opened to settlement until years after. Then they have the army fighting the Jayhawkers for control of the kingdom of Kansas (which has a lot of astonishingly large, well-built towns in it). The Jayhawkers are a para-military band whose raids--in this movie--are entirely in Kansas, against Kansans. Missouri, which was the real target of the real Jayhawkers gets one token mention, then we're back to raids in Kansas. The real Jayhawkers were horsethieves who raided into Missouri, occassionally kidnapping a slave so they could claim to be abolitionists (to be fair, a few were genuine abolitionists). The movie's Jayhawkers wore "Redlegs" leggings but no mention of Jennison is made. There's also not a single African-American in the entire movie though there's a brief mention of--I think they called them--"Missouri Redlegs" killing a lady's husband after asking his opinion of slavery.
It's bizarre. It's like they had the script for a stock western then went through and inserted a few pre-Civil War Kansas-Missouri border war phrases without bothering to find out anything about them.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another under the radar western sure to please July 31, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am allways amazed how you NEVER see some movies on TV. Jeff Chandler was a great hollywood actor whose life was tragically cut short by a botched routine operation. Any doubts buy his war sagas like Merrill's Mauraders and if Amazon has one left AWAY ALL BOATS! But this is about one of his westerns. THE JAYHAWKERS. they pair him up with a man known for tv shows not movies. Fess Parker. Known as Walt Disney's DAVY CROCKETT & ABC early days network bedrock DANIEL BOONE. The chemistry is magic and makes this western loosely based on Quantrill's Raiders riveting. Definately worth the price'
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Much Fun to Watch! October 27, 2012
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Remember the "good old westerns" we watched as kids that had beautiful color and bigger than life heros! Well, this is one I highly recommend! Get out the popcorn and enjoy!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual Western June 5, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I remember the film The Jayhawkers because I saw it on the big screen in a movie theatre. And I still find the concept of this film fascinating. Both Fess Parker and Jeff Chandler are so believable in their respective roles. It's definitely a film I will keep as part of my film library.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Jayhawkers an Entertaining Western August 18, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This is an odd little Western set in the 1850s, with Jeff Chandler and Fess Parker on opposite sides of the law. Chandler, as Luke Darcy, plays a very noble yet misguided self-appointed leader of a band of outlaws bent on seeing his vision of society's mores come to fruition. Chandler brings integrity and determination to his role. Parker is always good in his homespun way. Henry Silva is also on hand demonstrating his wry presence. The film's greatest asset (and probably why I always liked this film) is its score by Jerome Moross, best known for "The Big Country." If you listen close you can hear strains of his theme for the TV show "Wagon Train." The VHS color print is vivid.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fess Parker sings yet again.... October 17, 2012
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Another fine Vistavision western with a great score and a decent story as Fess Parker tries to figure out which path to take as he joins forces with Jeff Chandler and his Jayhawkers who are trying to take over Kansas in the mid 19th century.... The video is pretty good with numerous minute scratches traveling sideways across the screen....these do not take away from the film, however.... Definitely worth it for Western fans and those of us who love Vistavision.... The Run for Cover blu-ray looks better, but a great western nonetheless....
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and Underrated September 16, 2012
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Chandler's superb in the Quantrill-based role. (Then again, when was he not?) Parker underplays his part as the man sent to catch him, knowing Chandler's the man indirectly responsible for his wife's demise. Henry Silva is wonderfully sleazy as the gunhand. And Jerome Moross' score is brilliant, as good as his work in THE BIG COUNTRY. There's a good amount of action, so Western fans won't be disappointed. A fun way to spend some time.Head `Em Off At the Pass!: 94 Westerns You Should Watch
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I've got what I want. I've got Kansas." July 26, 2013
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
An uncharacteristic drama in a career dominated by comedies like The Court Jester and A Touch of Class, Melvin Frank's The Jayhawkers! is an ambitious Western drama with some interesting psychological undercurrents as Fess Parker's escaped convict is promised his freedom if he can deliver Jeff Chandler's ruthless empire builder for execution. Rather than the customary cattle king or ruthless outlaw, Chandler's got bigger plans, forming a private army of Jayhawkers to seize control of Kansas and turn it into his personal kingdom. Masquerading as brutal redlegs brutally pillaging small towns and then `liberating' them under their own colours, he's a keen student of history as well as a callous womaniser who uses women like wine - when the bottle is empty, he just throws the bottle away, with one difference "With a wine you sometimes learn the name, with women never." And wouldn't you know it, one of the women he threw away and left to die in the gutter was Parker's wife. But Parker falls under the spell of his big ideas and powerful personality, and it's not a one-way attraction. Chandler clearly has a more than fraternal interest in his latest recruit, casting aside former favourite Henry Silva and even killing his own men when they threaten Parker because "Nobody cheats me out of you!"

Chandler dominates the film as the would-be dictator with a fear of being hung to dance on the end of a rope "like a clown" and something of a Napoleon complex (he even keeps a bust of the man in his home and gets Parker to read up on his campaigns) but who, as Nicole Maurey's French widow points out in the odd less than subtle nod to 20th century history, is just fooling the gullible to further his own ends.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great action packed western classic with full screen and excellent colour rendition.
We thoroughly enjoyed viewing this film.
Published 9 days ago by anthony chetcuti
4.0 out of 5 stars The Jayhawkers
This is an excellent movie. I regularly select this movie to watch in my leisure time.
Published 1 month ago by Alexander Myers
5.0 out of 5 stars timely delivery
the movie was here on time and in good condition. i didnt get to watch it because it was a mothers day gift.
Published 3 months ago by andrea m. brown
4.0 out of 5 stars The jayhawkers
jeff Chandler was a under rated B movie actor that I liked as a kid. In Jayhawkers he plays a gang leader who sells protection in a underhanded way to towns in pre civil war... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Robert Berthoud
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Western
I love old westerns especially when they take on a real-life part of history. This movie does that and is entertaining as well.
Published 4 months ago by N. Ann Lamphere
4.0 out of 5 stars War and Politics
The Jayhawkers!, 1959 film

This takes place in the Territory of Kansas just before the Civil War. A wounded man falls off his horse, his left arm is wounded. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Acute Observer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Olive Blu-ray!
Olive Films did a great job on the transfer of this good Western. This movie is presented in Widescreen and runs for about 100mins (1hr 40mins). Read more
Published 15 months ago by Rick Lane
5.0 out of 5 stars GOOD ONE!
Published 16 months ago by BRUMBY
4.0 out of 5 stars Good western - we don't see them like that anymore?
It was a violent film that hardly made it thrue the censorship at the time. Now I cannot see why. Jeff Chandler was brilliant as Luke Darcy. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Tito Pannaggi
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome movie
I saw this movie as a kid and have been looking for it for a long time!! It's a great western with Fess Parker!!
Published 19 months ago by Brantly Wallace
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