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A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the commander. The secret plan for the mission is overheard by a southern belle who must be taken along to assure her silence. The Union officers each have different reasons for wanting to be on the mission. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When John Wayne (Col. Marlow) first meets William Holden (Maj. Kendall), he accuses him of being out of uniform because he is not wearing his sidearms. In that particular scene, Marlow is wearing a cavalry sword. But throughout the rest of the film, Marlow does not wear any sidearms. Even when the Confederate forces are charging through the street and one of his junior officers offers him a pistol, he waves it off. See more »
Colonel Marlowe identifies himself as the commander of the 1st Illinois (i.e., 1st Illinois Volunteer Cavalry Regiment), and so would have been a colonel in the Volunteer Army, not the regular Army. As such, even as a brigade commander, he would not have had the authority on his own to order Sergeant Kirby to replace his senior regimental sergeant. See more »
William Holden and John Ford, in their first pairing...
As the Civil War goes against the North, General Grant (Stan Jones) is unable to take the Confederate fortress of Vicksburg because the Confederates have it so well defended... He realizes necessity of cutting off that city's supply sources..
Col. John Marlowe (John Wayne) is assigned to take a small brigade of cavalry from Tennessee, ride hundreds of miles into the Confederate territory and destroy the railroad at Newton Station, Mississippi, thereby cutting the supply line to Vicksburg... To do it, he will have to avoid all contact with rebel forces until he has reached his target...
The first problem Marlowe encounters is Major Hank Kendall (William Holden), an obstinate surgeon who will be accompanying the force... Marlowe has the expected contempt of the combat soldier for his colleague who carries no arms... In addition, when Kendall asserts his rights as an officer in the medical corps to declare unfit any soldier he considers so, Marlowe and Kendall clash...
The next problem is Marlowe's second in command, Col. Secord (Willis Bouchey), who makes no secret of his plans to use his military career to further his strong political ambitions...
The third problem is the high-spirited belle Hannah Hunter (Constance Towers). This violent Southern patriot gives him an initial hard time... The Yankee soldiers stay at her plantation soon after they cross into the Confederacy... When Hannah learns their plans, Marlow is forced then to take her along with them for security reasons...
Holden and Wayne (violently opposing strong personalities) perform their assignment with a consummate force, intensity, and expert teamwork... Constance Towers, too, registers a vital presence... At their first dinner, she passes Wayne a platter of chicken... As she leans over, threatening to divulge her engaging décolletage, she says: 'Oh come now, Colonel, a man with a great big frame like yours can't just nibble away like a little titmouse. Now what was your preference, the leg or the breast?'
Incorrigibly sentimental and romantic in his big cavalry epic, Ford's motion picture is full of heroic cavalry on the skyline imagery... Among the more affecting scenes is that in which a harsh compassionate Wayne comforts a dying young soldier and the one in which he registers his love for Towers... There is also a compelling sequence, pure John Ford, in which a group of teenage cadets march out from a Southern military academy to take on the enemy, which makes manifest to battle boys and pulls a retreat, leaving the kids cheering...
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