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Captain Maddocks will never be promoted beyond Captain because of a mistake that he made in the past. Lt. McQuade is a green rookie who is now under the command of the tough Captain and he does not seem to be able to do anything right. Lt. McQuade also has trouble with Tracey, but it will be the renegade Indians that will test him and teach him the importance of following orders. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film recorded a loss of $42,000, according to MGM records. See more »
On the night before the final battle: around the campfire, bottom right, ribbed shoe-prints are clearly visible in the dust. They were obviously made by modern footwear with synthetic soles. See more »
I have a soft spot for b-movies and random westerns. This one is a run-of-the-mill cavalry vs. Indians job that suffers from uneven pacing, a miscast lead role, and over-reliance on formula plot elements. But there are a few interesting points that make it worth watching.
One of its chief virtues is the excellent job it does of capturing the day to day flavor of life in a remote cavalry outpost in 1870s southwest. The military manners, habits, and routines are portrayed with convincing detail. The class stratification between enlisted men and officers is utterly real. An early scene with dead soldiers being transported on horseback is played to grim, nauseating effect, with enlisted men displaying hardened indifference and black humor about the situation. All of this gives the film some weight and veracity.
On the other hand, it suffers from generic Hollywood artificiality, relying unthinkingly on shoot 'em up conventions of faceless Indians, and sporting a formulaic romantic triangle subplot. Another major problem is George Hamilton's performance. The character he plays is not particularly sympathetic or likable, and he does nothing to bring depth to it. He's unappealingly flat and cocky. A better actor in this key role would've gone a long way toward breathing some life into the film, especially in its flabby, tedious midsection.
But the real reason to watch this film is Richard Boone. I've liked him in just about everything I've seen him in, but here he is completely riveting. He plays the tough, smart, experienced commander of the undermanned outpost. He's a lonely man, who feels keenly the burden of his job. Late in the film there's a scene where he discovers a scene of carnage, with a number of his men dead, and his controlled rage is very moving. He brings the only real gravitas and feeling to the movie, effectively communicating the weight of life & death decisions and consequences. He's absolutely terrific.
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