She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Romance, Western  |  22 October 1949 (USA)
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Reviews: 89 user | 47 critic

Captain Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. Encumbered by women who must be evacuated, Brittles finds his mission imperiled.



(story), (screenplay) (as Frank Nugent) , 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Lt. Flint Cohill
Second Lt. Ross Pennell
Top Sgt. Quincannon
Abby Allshard
Major Mac Allshard
Arthur Shields ...
Dr. O'Laughlin
Michael Dugan ...
Sgt. Hochbauer
Fred Graham ...
Sgt. Hench
Chief Sky Eagle ...
Chief Sky Eagle
Cpl. Mike Quayne
Noble Johnson ...
Chief Red Shirt


After Custer and the 7th Cavalry are wiped out by Indians, everyone expects the worst. Capt. Nathan Brittles is ordered out on patrol but he's also required to take along Abby Allshard, wife of the Fort's commanding officer, and her niece, the pretty Olivia Dandridge, who are being evacuated for their own safety. Brittles is only a few days away from retirement and Olivia has caught the eye of two of the young officers in the Company, Lt. Flint Cohill and 2nd Lt. Ross Pennell. She's taken to wearing a yellow ribbon in her hair, a sign that she has a beau in the Cavalry, but refuses to say for whom she is wearing it. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


John Ford's New and Finest Picture of the Fighting Cavalry! See more »


Drama | Romance | Western


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 October 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Teufelshauptmann  »

Box Office


$1,600,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Capt. Brittles marks each day off an 1876 calendar with no month, on which the first day is a Wednesday. That would make the month of his "retirement" as March of 1876. See more »


When the bugler plays 'Taps' over a burial, his lip-pursing and blowing are out of sync with the sound of the bugle. See more »


[last lines]
Narrator: [as the troop passes by] So here they are: the dog-faced soldiers, the regulars, the fifty-cents-a-day professionals... riding the outposts of a nation. From Fort Reno to Fort Apache - from Sheridan to Startle - they were all the same: men in dirty-shirt blue and only a cold page in the history books to mark their passing. But wherever they rode - and whatever they fought for - that place became the United States.
See more »


References Stagecoach (1939) See more »


Traditional Irish tune
In score
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User Reviews

Looks great and plays well but I didn't find it as good as I've come to expect from this stable (sorry!)
25 December 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A week or so before his retirement, Captain Nathan Brittles is in charge of a fort when it is clear that the Indian tribes are joining to fight their common foe of the cavalry. Brittles leads his men out to try and stop the impending attack but finds himself hampered by having to also escort the two women who were staying at the fort at the time.

I am a fan of Ford/Wayne westerns and will often enjoy them with ease. However I struggled to really get into this one and it did really feel a little light and unstructured. The overall plot was good but I didn't get any sense of detail or character other than broader brushstrokes. The action is good and the dialogue is witty and interesting but the film was a bit too light and impersonal to be able to take that broad sweep of history and apply it to this small group.

Wayne plays a man 20 years his senior but does it well. He has his usual tough charm and has some great dialogue to go along with it. He is given great support by the rest of the cast, some of whom stand out more than others. The best support he has also risks upstaging him - that of the scenery and the Oscar winning cinematography. The wide-open spaces feel wonderful and the colours are very generous.

Overall I did quite enjoy the film but I didn't really get into the plot. It seemed a little too big to be able to make the smaller things work. For example I didn't really get much from the idea of Brittles retiring where I think I was meant to read it as the changing of the type of men America needed from this period on, a salute to the men of the old west if you will. However this got lost in the battles and Indian wars. Still worth seeing but by Ford and Wayne standards this could be considered not much above par.

18 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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