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Springfield Rifle (1952)

Approved | | War, Western | 25 October 1952 (USA)
Major Lex Kearny becomes the North's first counterespionage agent as he tries to discover who's behind the theft of Union cavalry horses in Colorado during the Civil War.


(as Andre DeToth)


(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Maj. Alex 'Lex' Kearney
Erin Kearney
Austin McCool
Lt. Col John Hudson
Capt. Edward Tennick
Pete Elm (as Lon Chaney)
James Millican ...
Matthew Quint
Sgt. Snow
Pvt. Olie Larsen
Col. George Sharpe


Major Lex Kearney, dishonorably discharged from the army for cowardice in battle, has actually volunteered to go undercover to try to prevent raids against shipments of horses desperately needed for the Union war effort. Falling in with the gang of jayhawkers and Confederate soldiers who have been conducting the raids, he gradually gains their trust and is put in a position where he can discover who has been giving them secret information revealing the routes of the horse shipments. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The right man... for the right gun! See more »


War | Western


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

25 October 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gegenspionage  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The opening scene has a matte shot with the U.S. capitol dome in the background. The dome was not completed until 1866. See more »


At the beginning, General Halleck is wearing a crimson sash. As a General, he should be wearing a cream-colored sash. See more »


Lt. Col John Hudson: And after the war, well, bitterness loses its taste and many things are forgotten.
Maj. Alex 'Lex' Kearney: I hope so.
See more »


Remade as Cheyenne: Test of Courage (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

Forget the title - it's Union vs Confederate cavalry in the West !
19 November 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I've heard it said that the Springfield Rifle was Warner Brothers answer to Winchester 73. That sounds plausible to me as the only reason to title the movie Springfield Rifle. Use of the rifle came in at the end of the movie but had very little to do with the rest of the film. At least in Wincester 73, Jimmy Stewart and others kept crossing the path of the titled rifle. Winchester was a better movie all around. Still, Springfield Rifle is well worth seeing if you are a fan, like me, of the old Westerns of the 1950s. In this one, Gary Cooper gets himself dishonorably discharged from the US Army for running from the enemy. I'm not going to tell you the why, who or how of it as I don't want to spoil any of the plot for you. Some things I can mention is that Coop is hired by the horse thieves who are outsmarting the military at every turn. His idea is to get the goods on who is doing the stealing and tipping off the "bad guys." He learns that they are in cahoots with the Confederate Cavalry to deny horses to the Union troops. Enough said on that count so that you can enjoy the movie without knowing what is coming up. Cast wise it was an interesting mix with some old hands to add their know-how. Coop was his usual self but he was showing his age and health at about 51 years old. This came out later, the same year as High Noon and he was starting to look a little rough in that too. But High Noon was his comeback picture after declining from his peak years. In Springfield Rifle, Phyllis Thaxter played the role she was usually saddled with, the wife of the male star. She did a good job with a role that didn't have much meat on it. You may remember her playing the wife of Glen Ford and adopted mother of the first Christopher Reeve Superman. I remember her outstanding job as Van Johnson's wife in 30 Seconds Over Tokyo. In Springfield Rifle she spills the beans and gets several people killed, but everyone is kind enough not to mention it. David Brian was smooth as a leader of the rustlers and Philip Carey was his usual self as a Union captain openly hostile to Cooper's part as Lex Kearney. Carey played his part well as you would never guess that.... oops, you will have to watch it to find out. Paul Kelly was the CO of the fort and added his long time experience as a supporting actor to the story. Did you know he spent 2 years in San Quentin for beating someone to death? Wow! Anyway, that brings us to a couple of interesting parts. One of the "jayhawkers" was played by Lon Chaney, Jr. He did an admirable job as always and the poor guy never seemed to get the roles he deserved. He was always in his father's shadow. One of the Confederate soldiers I knew instantly. Who wouldn't know him if you were a fan of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. Yep, Fess Parker himself was a member of the CSA band who were buying the horses and assisting the jay-hawker horse rustlers. He had a few speaking parts in it and was likable even as a horse thief. This is another sad case of someone being denied better parts. Poor Fess had a hard time breaking the type casting as Davy Crockett and later as Daniel Boone on TV. Guess sometimes you can do too good of a job. It was also nice to see the familiar faces of Guinn "Big Boy Williams, Alan Hale, Jr. (Skipper from Gilligan), Martin Milner (Route 66, Kent Family Chronicles) and James Brown (Lt. Rip Masters of Rin Tin Tin). Kearney's son was played by Michael Chapin and although he didn't make it big in show biz, you may remember his sister Lauren as Kitten on Father Knows Best. For a movie that didn't really become a classic, it was fun to watch and loaded many actors whose talent was never fully utilized by the studios. I don't think the movie won any major awards, and frankly shouldn't have. Still, it is great 1950's shoot-em-up cavalry action and worth the time to watch. If you get the chance, and you like Westerns, be sure to enjoy it.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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