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During the Civil War, in 1863,Confederate prisoners of war agree to join forces with the Union Army in the common fight against Indians.In return,the Confederate POWs are promised their freedom by President Lincoln during his Special Proclamation.A company of Confederate Georgia cavalry POWs,under the command of Confederate Colonel Clay Tucker, joins the Union on the sole condition they wouldn't have to fight against the Confederacy.The company is sent to the isolated and undermanned Fort Thorn, New Mexico, on the Western frontier. The fort is commanded by Union major Henry Kenniston who is limping from an old war wound and who hates Confederates.The old animosities between Unionists and Confederates quickly resurface during their fragile alliance against the Indians. Written by
Two Flags West begins with Confederate colonel Joseph Cotten given an offer to have his men get paroled from prison if they'll serve in the union army out west where the troops are stretched pretty thin. Over some objections he takes the offer from Captain Cornel Wilde.
Wilde takes Cotten and his men to Fort Thorn in the Southwest which is commanded by rebel hating and Indian hating Jeff Chandler. There's a good reason why this guy is in a backwater command as you'll see as the film unfolds. In addition there's Linda Darnell, wife of Chandler's late brother who was killed in the Civil War and who all three guys have their eyes on. But Chandler scares Darnell as well he should.
It was interesting to see Chandler whose career role was Cochise playing an Indian hater. But he does successfully put over the character. His Indian hating causes a lot of tragedy before the film is over.
Two Flags West is a brooding kind of western that's not for the squeamish. It's an exceptionally violent film that I'm not sure how it got through the Code. It's one of Jeff Chandler's best early roles, too bad Universal didn't cast him in more films like Two Flags West.
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