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Dr. Allen Seward (Robert Francis) is assigned to a western cavalry post where his predecessors had been drunks and slackers. The post doesn't take kindly to him either, especially after he disregards regulations and tends to sick Indians on the malaria-infested reservation. The Indians break away from the reservation to move to a healthier higher ground, and when they join with the Comanches to besiege the fort, Seward is branded as a "woodhawk", the bird that turns against its own. Donna Reed is present as the niece of the post commander; Phil Carey is a cavalry captain that believes the only good Indian is a dead Indian, and May Wynn (who shared a screen debut with Francis in "The Caine Mutiny)is the white girl raised by the Indians and married to the chief's son. Francis would make only two more films before being killed in a 1955 plane crash. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Dr. Allen Seward (Robert Francis) is assigned to a western cavalry post, due to his predecessors failings he finds that he is instantly disliked, and even worse, not trusted. Things worsen when during a confrontation at an Indian Reservation, Seward attempts to help an ill Indian infant and befriends the tribe doctor. As the war with the Indians escalates, so does the hatred from the camp towards Seward, with the men even refusing his medical treatment, but with the support of the lovely Laurie MacKaye, and a bond formed with Manyi-ten, an Indian Bride, Seeward may just be the solution to end this troubled conflict?
They Rode West is nothing special in the pantheon of inspiring and intelligent Westerns, what it isn't is one of those boorish standard Cavalry Vs Indians shoot them ups. Playing out with a lot of heart and a purpose of intent, it's a film that has a nice colour sheen, has some real solid acting and doesn't outstay its welcome. Notable for being the first of only four films that a 25 year old Robert Francis would make before being tragically killed in an aeroplane crash, They Rode West will not excite those in search of wall to wall gunfights, it will however be of interest to those who like a story of humane conflict via verbal beliefs. Of the other notables in the cast, Donna Reed adds the required touch of prettiness as Laurie MacKaye and Philip Carey does a nice line as the grumpy commander, Captain Blake. Direction from Phil Karlson is as steady as you would expect for this type of production, to leave me only left to say that it's a recommended film to see the first work of an interesting actor in the making, and of course for a bit of nous in the story. 6/10
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