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A ruthless Union captain is renowned throughout his prison fort as the toughest soldier in the business, capable of capturing every escaped convict under his supervision. However, when he falls in love with a visiting woman some of the prisoners seize the advantage and try to escape while he is in a more "mellow" mood. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
Worthy 1953 Western with William Holden & Eleanor Parker
Released in 1953, "Escape from Fort Bravo" was always one of my favorite 50's Westerns. It stars William Holden as Capt. Roper, who ruthlessly oversees a group of Confederate prisoners at a fort in the SW wilderness. John Forsythe plays Confederate prisoner Capt. Marsh and Eleanor Parker stars as Carla, a woman who visits the fort under the pretense of attending a wedding. As Roper falls for Carla, the Confederates take advantage of his love blinded-ness. When Roper goes after a group of escapees the soldiers have no recourse but to team up against a band of marauding Mescalero Indians.
William Holden was in his prime here, as was the breathtaking Eleanor Parker, both stunning examples of masculine strength and feminine charm respectively.
Although the soldiers rarely miss and the Natives rarely hit, the Indians are depicted in a realistic, respectable manner, showing ingenuity in their resolve to wipe out the pinned-down group of whites.
William Campbell, well-known for the lead Klingon in the original Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" and less-so as the alien Trelane in "The Squire of Gothos," has a formidable supporting role as one of the escaping Confederates. He was almost fifteen years younger and barely recognizable.
The film was shot in desolate regions of California and New Mexico, including Death Valley, and runs 99 minutes.
FINAL WORD: I realize a lot of pre-60s Westerns come off roll-your-eyes lame or artificial, but "Escape from Fort Bravo," aside from the dated opening tune, doesn't fall into that category.
GRADE: B+ or A-
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