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In 1876, during the Great Sioux Wars, U.S. Cavalry Capt. Phillip Donlin serves at Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Montana Territory. His duties take him away from his wife, Celie Donlin, who feels neglected and unhappy.She is having an affair with Lt. John Haywood, whom she tries to persuade to resign the army and run away with her.Unknown to them, her husband overhears their conversation and confronts them.Heartbroken, he leaves the next morning on another patrol.His latest mission is to arrive at Camp Yellowstone and warn General Custer and his meager forces numbering a few hundred men of the large buildup of Sioux forces gathering at the Little Big Horn River.During a stop at a watering hole, Capt. Donlin's patrol is reached by Lt. Haywood's unit and told to return to Fort Lincoln but the captain disregards the orders and decides to attempt to warn general Custer whose forces already left for Little Big Horn River. Written by
In the scene where Corbo and Hofstetter run into the Sioux horse herd, firing their pistols into the air to scare them off, it's obvious that Corbo's pistol accidentally discharges while he's still holding it at his side, pointed toward the ground - you can see the muzzle flash but no shot is heard. A few seconds later, after he raises his pistol into the air and fires off another shot, you can see the muzzle flash AND hear the sound of the pistol going off. See more »
Why does anyone have to ride point?
The Army works on the principle that it's better to sacrifice a few to many. It's hard to be one of those "few."
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Writing and acting! Acting and writing! Like another great little "Custer" film "Bugles in the Afternoon!" starring Ray Milland (and LBH's Sheb Wooley playing Custer!), the acting and dialog in this Cavalry classic is top notch. Everything just clicks making this film look as good as any classic Western with a much bigger budget.
The soundtrack is interesting. The "On the Little Big Horn! 1876!" sung by a chorus rings out loud and clear in the opening credits and sets the mood for the story. Must have been a thrill to the Saturday matinée kid cowboy crowd. It certainly adds to "larger than life" mood of this film.
The writers, by setting up this film with the well known history of the Custer defeat (or is it the Native American victory) at the Little Big Horn as a backdrop, helps make your imagination do what the well spent but inexpensive budget doesn't! (It is almost like a radio play in that way.) With the descriptions of sighting of thousands of Souix by the patrols in this film, you feel the intensity and importance of the mission. Also the suspense created by knowing there are a lot of Indians out there and the "Heart of Darkness" atmosphere as the troop advances further and further into Indian territory gives the ambushes that happen the right kind of life and death dynamic.
The story line is not that improbable. Gen. Crook, who had met in the Battle of the Rosebud just some of the Souix that would engage Custer a week or so later, did think of continuing with what was left of his command or some troopers to Custer and Terry to inform them of what happened. It didn't happen however. Still, the mission of trying to deliver a message at all costs to Custer gives this film the needed dynamic it requires.
Major or soon to be major actors give performances here that both their earlier and later "high budget" careers only enhance. The leads Lloyd Bridges (High Noon!, Sea Hunt, Hot Shots) and John Ireland (Red River, Spartacus, A Walk in the Sun) and supporting actors like the memorable King Donavan (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), the good spirited Wally Cassell (Sands of Iwo Jima), Jim Davis (Dallas!), newcomer Hugh O'Brien (TV's Wyatt Earp), Mr. beautiful baritone Reed Hadley, known for his narrations of Hollywood films (Guadalcanal Diary) and those Atomic Bomb documentaries by the US government plus all the rest of this ensemble do an outstanding job.
Bridges and Ireland are perfect as the hard nosed commander and the sympathetic Lt. always in conflict with each other. The film moves along without any real slow spots. It has good cinematography.
It has good production values and the good writing that make it seem like a bigger film than it really is. It has that "film noir" mood that never would have worked as well in color either. It is really a western that stimulates your imagination!
Many Kudos for this classic!
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