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During the Indian Wars in the Southwest, a sergeant assumes command of a cavalry detachment after it is mauled in an Apache ambush that killed its captain and seriously wounded its lieutenant. The surviving troopers must reach either a larger cavalry column or a wagon train the column is to escort. But first they need water and the nearest water hole is in Apache hands.... Written by
You know you have a great action film when you realize you could make it work just as well as a stage play.
And that's what we have here. An action Western about a "lost patrol" style cavalry unit, against the natives.
Don't be misled by the "action" though. This is a deep story. McCrea gives an astounding performance, owed also to great writing, directing, and supporting cast, as a man who isn't what he seems.
The movie gives us a look at how a man in position of leader can seem to be in one piece, but isn't. We see hints of the character's madness, and some, like Tucker's character, have seen him enough not to be fooled. A pair of peaceful Indians, one an old man, the other a beautiful woman, become pivotal in learning more about McCrea, and pivotal in his sole supporter's realization of how mad his leader is.
The two Indians are exceptionally well written, and played to perfection. We see two humans, and so does the cavalry unit, all except McCrea.
The ending is quite a surprise, even today. Very few cavalry films show characters who are this believable and three dimensional.
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