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Springfield Rifle
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Reviews & Ratings for
Springfield Rifle More at IMDbPro »

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22 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Finding the Inside Man

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
18 August 2006

Springfield Rifle is the film Gary Cooper made after his much acclaimed performance in High Noon. Not that it's a bad film, but a fairly routine western which even kind of gives away who the inside man is way too early in the film. It would have been better had their been more suspense.

Gary Cooper goes undercover to find a ring of rustlers who are working in cahoots with the Confederacy during the Civil War, stealing horses meant for the Union cavalry.

To do this he gets himself courtmartialed and drummed out of the army. And he gets the full Chuck Connors treatment, that Connors received on his series Branded. This enables Cooper to join the renegades led by David Brian and Lon Chaney, Jr.

Things do get complicated when Coop's wife, Phyllis Thaxter, shows up to tell him about their son who has run away. Her concern nearly derails the mission and her husband.

Some good western action is in Springfield Rifle, a couple of pitched battles with the renegades and Cooper finally uncovering the inside man in the rustling ring.

Three good performances besides the players mentioned are Guinn Williams as the sergeant who saves Cooper from a hangman, Paul Kelly as the post commander, and Philip Carey as a rival officer to Cooper on the post.

Springfield Rifle is good action entertainment for those who like their westerns action filled.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

An entertaining Civil War Western!

Author: Righty-Sock ( from Mexico
9 January 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

André De Toth found his niche in Westerns... He directed "Man in the Saddle," "Last of the Comanches," "The Stranger Wore a Gun," and "The Indian Fighter" with his cautious, distinguished way, and intelligent skill..

With a nice musical score by Max Steiner, his "Springfield Rifle" projects imagination and suspense...

Major 'Lex' Kearney (Gary Cooper), a Union officer, masterminds a counter-espionage scheme to undercover a gang of renegades who continually have top-secret informations regarding shipments of horses to the Confederacy... Cooper joins the confederates as a spy to unmask the traitor...

Phyllis Thaxter was effective in her small role as the wondering astonished wife (Erin) suffering with her son (Michael Chapin) who can't accept or understand the fact that his father was cashiered from the army for cowardice...

Lon Chaney, Jr. as a villain, and Philip Carey, as the valiant officer, contribute to the tense and violent atmosphere of the motion picture...

Filmed in Technicolor, "Sprinfield Rifle" follows Fred Zinnemann's great Western "High Noon," and is basically a pretty entertaining routine Civil War Western...

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Great direction & cinematography

Author: FtValleyPS from Flagstaff, Arizona
10 July 2008

I agree the movie is an underrated western, it reminds one of John Ford movies, and the direction is great. Some of the acting and direction, e.g. when Col. Hudson figures out Lex is an agent, is really good, as well as other scenes with very subtly fine direction. What also occurs to me is that much of the cinematography in this film is pretty near fantastic. While the setting in Lone Pine, California is nice and makes the filming a little easier in that regard, the lighting and camera work are exceptional, including early and late day shots, and even for the average shots on the set, e.g. around the fort, lighting, etc. Some of the action shots are pretty darned amazing, too, including the running herds of horses. I noticed a mix of saddle horses, mules and draft horses in the herd, which I think lends some authenticity to the film.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Forget the title - it's Union vs Confederate cavalry in the West !

Author: padutchland-1 from United States
19 November 2006

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.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Expect the unexpected

Author: dbdumonteil
1 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Springfield rifle" is a western but it's not your usual average western.Its screenplay could be that of a spy thriller ,for it is primarily a story of spies ,of undercover agents.First thing you have got to bear in mind ,if you want to appreciate De Toth's movie ,is "don't rely too much on appearances ".Things are not what they seem indeed and the audience ,till the last third ,does not know who they can trust.De Toth was not apparently interested in the female character relegated to a position of secondary importance ,even with the moments of the plot which deal with her (and Cooper's ) son:this boy is expected to appear but all his adventures are verbally told (he only appears in the last scene).Just as the director does not tell us the story of two officers' hatred (which was what the audience expected ).Just as in De Toth's 1959 "Day of the outlaw" the "violent " dance and the chase in the snow were completely unexpected.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

enjoyable western, about spying during the civil war.

Author: tmwest from S. Paulo, Brazil
5 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

1952 was a great year for westerns. Besides "High Noon" there was "Hangman's Knot", one of Randolph Scott's best, "Bend of the River", "Viva Zapata", "Rancho Notorious" and so many others. And there was "Springfield Rifle" with an unusual story about spying during the civil war. Cooper is Major Kearney, an officer for the Union, even though he was born in Virginia. He refuses to fight the enemy when they steal the horses they are taking, because they are outnumbered. He is dishonored and branded a coward. There is no end to his humiliation. As it turns out he is really a spy going undercover to find out who is the spy in the Union, responsible for stealing the horses and sending them to the Confederates. He does not tell his wife about it, so she ends up spoiling everything. He should have known better, you don't hide such a secret from your wife!!! The film also shows the Springfield Rifle, which had a new system for loading and gave a superiority to the men using it. This was one of the best westerns directed by De Toth.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

4 out of 5 action rating

Author: Jeff ( from United States
19 November 2012

See it- This is a diamond in the rough. It is relatively unknown but a must-see for Gary Cooper fans. Cooper plays his usual character of a man on a mission to redeem himself, but this is not a typical western. Exciting from start to finish, it's the story of the inception of counterintelligence used by the Union in the Civil War. It is not necessarily James Bond with a cowboy hat. It is still very much a western, and a refreshingly good Civil War movie for a change. Movie buffs will also get a kick out of a young Fess Parker. Full of twists and lots of battle scenes, it's a good old-fashioned, fun movie. 4 action rating

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Mixed bag in Cooper led espionage Oater.

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
23 March 2010

Depending on what reviews you read of course, Springfield Rifle is either a slowly paced pot boiler or an action packed suspenser. Such is the diversity of this form of the arts, you could easily favour one or the other and nobody could really argue with you. The truth is that André De Toth's film wants to be both, but with an almost dizzying plot and a misleading title, it winds up being an over ambitious picture that doesn't quite pay off on its promise.

Gary Cooper stars as Maj. Alex 'Lex' Kearney who gets himself cashiered from the army on a charge of cowardice in order to go undercover to break up a Confederate ring who are stealing horses during the civil war. But Kearney is not the only spy at work so his mission is a touch more complicated than at first thought. Not only that but he is so deep undercover his wife and son believe him to be a real coward and have therefore ostracised him. Oh and the new and war changing Springfield Rifle will have a part to play in the shenanigans.

Released in the same year as Cooper was wowing genre fans in High Noon, De Toth's movie does actually feel like an attempt to cash in on the big mans star appeal. However, it should be noted that executives at Warner Brothers didn't want Cooper to play the role, fearing his wholesome image just wouldn't suit a role involving cowardice and double dallying for both parties in the war. De Toth stood by his guns and was rewarded, to my mind, by a film saving performance from Cooper. Frank Davis and Charles Marquis Warren adapt from a story written by Sloan Nibley (who is noted in the genre for his numerous work on Roy Rogers scripts), Max Steiner provides the score and Edwin B. DuPar photographs out of Lone Pine and Warner Ranch in California. The film is not shot in Technicolor {as stated by some reviewers}, it was shot in the Warnercolor process. With the result somewhat pleasing on the eye, notably the uniforms of the soldiers and the flame engulfed sequence towards the finale.

The support cast are fair to middling. Lon Chaney Jr. is sadly a shadow of his former self, tho a good old dust up with Cooper raises the temperature. Phyllis Thaxter, David Brian, Paul Kelly & Philip Carey file in and say their lines. While Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams & Alan Hale Jr. deserved more screen time than they actually got. With surprises in the plot and Cooper adding some quality, Springfield Rifle is entertaining enough. But ultimately it ends up being a modest genre piece that really should have been much much better. 6/10

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Springfield Rifle

Author: Uriah43 from Amarillo, Texas
3 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Gary Cooper plays the role of "Major Lex Kearny" who is tasked with getting a desperately needed herd of horses to the Union army. On the way there he encounters a large group of raiders and rather than risk the loss of men decides to retreat and allow the raiders to have the herd. Although he was out-numbered 4 to 1, his superiors feel that he should have put up more of a fact and as a result he is tried in a court-martial for cowardice and drummed out of the service. Now,rather than divulging what happens after that and risk spoiling the movie for those who haven't seen it, I will just say that I thought that this was a good Western movie with events that don't always happen as one might expect. And while it's an entertaining film, Gary Cooper is the only actor worth mentioning as far as performances are concerned. All in all, this was a decent movie which fans of this genre will probably enjoy. Slightly above average.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Mr G.Cooper goes undercover and looks slightly confused....

Author: ianlouisiana from United Kingdom
9 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers *** indeed I was as to who exactly the bad guys are and what side he is actually on."Springfield Rifle" is a Civil War cavalry picture in a sub - sub John Ford vein with a tired - looking Mr Cooper as a Union officer pretending to be a Confederate or a Confederate officer pretending to be a Union officer.One of the two anyway.It's certainly overly complicated with lots of clandestine meetings,secret codes and people being thrown into prison only to escape with slightly worrying ease the moment the fortunately slow - witted guards' attention is distracted. The eponymous firearm doesn't get a mention until 2/3rds the way through the film and by then I'd forgotten all about it. Apparently its rate of fire is five times that of all other rifles;an invaluable tool indeed and one that must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Confederates - or was it the Unionists?To tell you the truth I had lost track by then. Whichever,Mr Cooper and whatever side he was actually on triumphed,you won't be entirely surprised to hear. He is reinstated to his former rank and hundreds of thousands of Yankees and Rebs can continue to slaughter each other enthusiastically. In 1952 it was what passed for a happy ending,I guess.

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