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It's no classic, but it is quite a good film. Jimmy Stewart plays a gruff, old, drunken sheriff who can speak Comanche and Richard Widmark plays a cavalryman assigned to accompany him on a mission to buy white captives away from the Comanches. The first half of the film can be called Searchers-lite. They buy back two captives, a young white man stolen in his youth and a Mexican woman stolen five years earlier. Other non-Comanches they find are unsalvageable. Now, The Searchers ends ambiguously. We're not sure what is going to happen with Natalie Wood's character. Two Rode Together goes into that part of the story a bit more. Stewart falls in love with the Mexican girl, but she cannot take the way other white people treat her. The boy is so far gone that he is entirely violent to everyone around him. The second half of the film is actually quite great, and the film has an extremely powerful climax. Jimmy Stewart is beyond excellent in the film. Could you ever imagine a bad performance from this man? It's rare that he plays such a cheating b**tard, but he's no villain, either. The actress who plays the Mexican girl is very good, too. The rest of the cast is more than adequate. There's a funny scene where Ford regulars Andy Devine and Ken Curtis fight in a slapstick fashion. Ford's direction is rather flat. The story goes that he did this only as a favor, not by any real choice. Frank Nugent's script is quite good, especially in the second half. The score is excellent. The photography is weak, but good sets and costumes make the visual aspect of the film decent if not great. 8/10.
I saw this film first in 1961 at the Riviera Theatre in Rochester, New
York with my cousins and I loved it. I found out later that John Ford
in his cantankerous dotage dismissed all of the work he did after Wings
of Eagles as junk.
Well second rate John Ford is far better than first rate from 90% of directors. The film hasn't lost any charm for me even after 44 years.
Army Lieutenant Richard Widmark takes a patrol into Tascosa to fetch Marshal James Stewart back to the fort where Commandant John McIntire has an assignment for Stewart. It's to negotiate with Comanche Chief Quannah Parker for the return of white captives taken during the Indian wars. The rest of the film is what happens to both our leads during that mission and after.
To watch the chemistry between Stewart and Widmark is something to behold. There is a scene at the beginning of the film during the ride back to the fort where Stewart and Widmark sit on the bank of a stream while the horses are being watered. Ford has them engage in some bantering dialog where the characters are established. In the hands of these two consummate professional actors, the scene almost takes on a sublime quality. It's my favorite scene in the film.
As usual Ford rounds out his cast with a lot of his stock company. I have to single out Willis Bouchey. He plays Henry J. Wringle in this film who is along on this trip very reluctantly. He has the second best scene in the film with Stewart as he makes Stewart an offer that he'll pay him a thousand dollars to bring back any white captive around the age of his wife's son by her first husband. This is so he can get back to his business. Stewart's reactions to this offer are also something to behold. Willis Bouchey did so well in so many of Ford's later films, but here and in The Horse Soldiers I think his career peaked.
Second rate Ford is still good enough for me.
This is not your typical John Ford Western. The usual cast of Ford
characters is on hand. Henry Brandon reprises his role as the Comanche
chief Scar, which he played so well in the "Searchers". This time he plays
a more sympathetic role as the real life Comanche chief Quanah Parker. The
evil Clegg clan from "Wagonmaster" is also on hand. They are not quite as
evil this time around. The Comanches are played by the usual Navajos
recruited for countless Ford Westerns. The awesome arid scenery of Monument
Valley has been appropriately replaced by rolling grass covered plains
The two protagonists in the film are played by James Stewart and Richard Widmark. Stewart plays a gunfighter serving as sheriff of the Texas town of Tascosa. Widmark is the cavalry officer who summons him to Fort Grant to rescue Comanche captives. They ride together on this mission, which is relegated to a small part in the plot. Although they are friends, their partnership is uneasy from the start. Stewart is going on the mission for money. Widmark is ordered by the colonel (played by John McIntyre) to go. The tension between the two leads at one point to Stewart drawing, but not firing, his gun.
This film contains elements of "The Searchers". Like the other film the theme is captivity by the Indians. Just as in "The Searchers" captivity is viewed as degrading. Linda Cristal plays the captive in this film. "I am not worth fighting for", she says. Ford goes one step further here. Captivity by the Indians is depicted as extremely arduous. The protagonists find few living captives to rescue. The captives they do find are shown as prematurely old and savage. Cristal is an exception. Although she has been a wife to the Comanche chief Stone Calf for five years, she retains something of her aristocratic Mexican upbringing. Perhaps her strong Catholic faith enabled her to avoid the complete degradation typical of captives. Like Debbie in "The Searchers", she has the prospect for redemption. In "The Searchers" it is the strength of the family which provides redemption. Here it is a stagecoach to a new life in California.
The pace in this film differs from many Ford films. There is only one action scene. Much of the film is spent in quiet moments. In the opening scene McCabe (Stewart) is relaxing on the porch of the saloon. It is obvious that he has his law enforcement duties well in hand. In another scene he and Lieutenant Gary (Widmark) are resting on the banks of a river. There is also a significant interlude as the wagon train camps at Oak Creek. There is also a dance at the fort. At the end of the film McCabe returns to Tascosa to find someone else relaxing in his place.
McCabe is an interesting character. His ethics are questionable. He owns 10% of everything in Tascosa, he says. He'll do almost anything for money. He makes it clear to the colonel that he figures that each captive he brings back is worth $500. He then makes a deal with Henry J. Wringle (played by Willis Bouchey) to bring back a boy, any boy, for $1000. Wringle wants to get on with his business and can't afford to waste more time looking for his wife's son. McCabe is more than happy to oblige him, bringing back a boy whose savagery is unquestioned.
In the end there is redemption for both Stewart and Cristal. Both of their characters are interesting and well acted. It is a pity that so many other characters in this movie are wasted. Woody Strode's part as Stone Calf is particularly disappointing. The script gives him very little to say and do. He is around only long enough to go against Stewart in the film's only action sequence. Andy Devine provides much of the film's humor, but is not really credible as what McCabe calls "that hippopotamus of a sergeant".
I wish the film had spent more time focusing on Stewart and Widmark's mission to the Comanche camp as the film's title suggests. Unfortunately, it's only a footnote. Despite the flaws, the leisurely pace and Stewart's portrayal of the amoral McCabe make this film a treat.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'd never seen this until tonight on television. This is one of the
strangest movies I've ever seen - its tone keeps shifting every scene -
much of the time something like the story, "The Lottery" (deeply dark
and cynical about human nature) yet sometimes sentimental, sometimes
slapstick comedy, sometimes adventure story, sometimes very much a
1950s social issues movie like Stanley Kramer's. It's fascinating - and
weird - and compelling.
**** SPOILERS **** The movie has such mixed feelings about those who hope to find family members who've been captured by Commanchee Indians. At times it's deeply sympathetic - showing their pain (particularly Shirley Jones playing that music box). At other times the movie finds those who hold such forlorn hopes must be bizarre (in our very first sight of the mother of the missing son, we are meant to believe that she's not mentally sound on the issue). At other times, there's cynicism about them (e.g., the man who says any captive will do - he has to get back to his business, or those who are disgusted at the returned male former captive being so Indian).
The movie is schizophrenic in showing on the one hand, the utterly unsentimental Stewart as he calmly kills the Indian whose wife he's just captured (and saying "shut up" to his keening wife) yet showing him deeply disturbed by the mere fact that the cavalrymen won't dance with her.
The movie is schizophrenic in the way it shows the bar owner, Belle, whom we're meant to think is a sort of comic man-hungry woman through most of the movie - but who then issues the harshest racist comment backed up by a dagger at the end. HUH?
The movie is schizophrenic in the way it shows one captive on his return acting like a wild animal who knows only how to kill whites -- yet the movie wants us to think there is no such danger whatever (and we're to be outraged at the mere thought) from the other captive on her return. If we're meant to believe that one former captive would kill whites at the drop of a hat, why wouldn't she? Because she's a woman? Not according to the way Belle is shown at the end.
The movie is schizophrenic in the way it treats Richard Widmark's character -- he completely shares Stewart's astonished fear that any discussion could take place regarding "matrimony" -- yet we see no change of heart when he ups and proposes to Shirley Jones.
The movie is schizophrenic in the way it regards John McIntyre's character - are we to think he shares the bigotry of the others at the dance when he demands an apology from Widmark? Or are we to think he's the only decent man at the post?
The movie is schizophrenic in the way it regards the former female captive - given how swiftly she accommodated herself to life as a squaw after her husband was killed - and then immediately wants Stewart the moment her Indian husband was killed - and her repeated statements that she regards herself as dirt and not worth anyone fighting over - are we to think there is something deeply wrong with her? That she cannot live without a man for a single day - and will take anyone who'll have her?
The movie is schizophrenic in the importance it gives to Shirley Jones' character - at times she seems to be one of the central characters - yet at the end when we see Stewart and Widmark and Cristal together - WHERE IS SHE?
What are we to think of the lynching scene? I was sure that someone was going to stop the lynching - but no! And there are no consequences.
**** SPOILERS END ****
I kept thinking as I watched, that this must be a political allegory of some kind - like The Crucible or High Noon - but I can't think of any kind of politics that it would resemble. (At times, I thought of the civil rights movement going on at the time - but that doesn't at all fit with the movie's view of Commanchees as abominable).
This movie is truly bizarre - from Andy Devine bouncing people into the lake with his stomach to raw accounts of rape.
You have to see this to believe it - yet so many wonderful scenes - including the famous and absolutely winning and delightful one of Widmark and Stewart sitting on that tree log by the lake or river.
James Stewart plays an amoral whore-mongering marshal who is co-opted by the cavalry to find a group of settler children who had been taken captive and raised by the Commanches. Every supporting role is perfectly cast and the emotions strike deep to the core. Stewart is surprisingly comfortable playing an archly cynical contemptible mercenary with contempt for nearly everybody and everyone. Linda Cristal is excellent as the Mexican woman who was forced to be the Chief's wife for years. All aspects of captivity and dehumanization are carefully and sincerely explored here, and the twist ending is perfection itself. This is an overlooked classic.
The cynical and corrupt Marshal Guthrie McCabe (James Stewart) has a
comfortable life in Tascosa, receiving percentages of deals. His lover
Belle Aragon (Annelle Hayes) owns a saloon with a brothel and has just
proposed to marry him. However, Guthrie is summoned by the US Army
Major Frazer (John McIntire) that sends a troop commanded by his friend
First Lt. Jim Gary (Richard Widmark) to bring him to the Fort Grant.
When Guthrie meets Major Frazer, he explains that the relatives of prisoners of the Comanche tribe are pressing the army to bring them back home, but the soldiers can not trespass the Indian lands due to a treat with the Comanche. The mercenary Guthrie demands a large amount to negotiate with Chief Quanah Parker (Henry Brandon) the freedom of the white captives. Guthrie travels with Lt. Jim Gary and they rescue the two last captives, a teenager that has been raised by the Comanche and a young woman, Elena de la Madriaga (Linda Cristal), who has been the woman of the leader of the Buffalo Shields Stone Calf (Woody Strode) for five years. Once in the white society, they are outcast by the "civilized" white society and their reintegration is almost impossible.
"Two Rode Together" is another great western by John Ford, with a different story about the difficulty of reintegration of captives of Indians into the civilized society of the white man. The plot entwines comical and dramatic situations with powerful dialogs. James Stewart is fantastic, as usual, performing an unethical greedy man that changes his behavior after meeting Elena, performed by the gorgeous Linda Cristal. Both characters find redemption in the end. Richard Widmark shows a magnificent chemistry with James Stewart and Shirley Jones. In the end, it is hard to point out the civilized and uncivilized societies. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Terra Bruta" ("Raw Land")
Get ready to see an unexpected side of Jimmy Stewart. He is cynical, unethical, cowardly, and ruthless. Richard Widmark gets the thankless role of his by-the-book sidekick. Willis Bouchey, John Qualen, Shirley Jones, Woody Strode, and Ken Curtis are all excellent in unforgettable supporting roles. And, Linda Cristal nearly steals the film with a dynamic performance. This is a character study of the highest order.
Desperate relatives spend years searching for their loved beings
abducted by Indians in this lengthy Western . The US Army is under
pressure from the families of white captives of the Comanches . A Texas
marshal, Guthrie McCabe (James Stewart), is persuaded by an army
lieutenant (Richard Widmark) and a Major (John McIntire) to negotiate
with the Comanches to secure their rescue and for the return of
captives . But the expedition results to be a flop. However, just two
prisoners are released ; their reintegration into community proves to
be highly difficult , and complications , problems ensue .
This nice Western contains interesting characters , full of wide open space and dramatic moments . Outdoors are pretty good and well photographed by Charles Lawton Jr , story first-rate and powerful told too. Good Western with James Stewart sort playing himself as corrupt and cynical marshal who takes a percentage on his works . Entertaining film thanks to James Stewart for his cynical character and ironic point of sight . Also Widmark is excellent , while a great featured-role acting by veteran John McIntire . Solid support cast leads some eye-catching performances which include Andy Devine ,Jeanette Nolan ,John Qualen, Ken Curtis , Woody Strode, Henry Brandon as Quanah Parker and many others . ¨Two rode together¨ has a similar plot to ¨The searchers¨ though the Ford's vision about West is pretty cynical and less idealist. This classic picture ranks as one of the main of John Ford's works . It contains Ford's usual themes as familiar feeling , a little bit enjoyable humor, friendship and sense of comradeship but also lots of cynicism . Thought-provoking screenplay portraying in depth characters and brooding events with interesting issues running beneath script surface is written by Frank S. Nugent based on a novel by Will Cook , titled ¨Comanche captives . This may not be Ford or Stewart's best Western , as many would claim , but it's still head ad shoulders above most big-scale movies . You'll find the final terrible or over-melodramatic according to your tastes , though it's lovingly composed by John Ford who really picks up the drama towards the ending . Rating : Better than average .
I'm not sure why John Ford had such a problem with Two Rode Together as
he did (according to the trivia page Ford considered the film "crap"
even after his favorite writer came in to make it more like a Ford
picture). It brings many of his favorite, or just preferred, themes to
come back to: male camaraderie, the very fragile divide between whites
and Indians in the late 19th century, and a sense of balance between
leisure pace and high dramatic tension and stakes. Maybe he thought he
was repeating himself, or had other ideas that didn't make the final
cut of the script or lost them in the direction. There's a lot of meat
on the bones of Two Rode Together, even if if it does shy away from
real greatness. It takes its story seriously, and also leaves some time
for some unexpected human comedy between its two leads (or just mostly
It's premise is a little like a re-working or quasi-sequel to the Searchers. In that film Wayne was on a dogged search for his niece after she'd been captured by the Comanches and spends years tracking them down, only to find her totally changed (he still brings her home anyway). In Two Rode Together, a Marshall, about as tough and gruff and cruelly sarcastic as Wayne in that film, and a Major (Richard Widmark, the more level-headed and honorable of the two, if not quite as interesting), are put to task by the army to go to Comanche territory and bring back a few people that had been taken away years ago. Their families are desperate to see them again, and the Marshall is way more reluctant than the Major as he's had more experience with the Comanches (that, and the lack of pay, very shrewd and greedy he is). But they go ahead to the Comanche territory, track down a couple of them, and bring them back. This is halfway through the movie.
The rest of Two Rode Together sees the dire straits of this assimilation, how one of them, a rowdy boy who doesn't speak a lick of English, isn't even thought to be the right son of the desperate mother, and the other, a Mexican, is pushed aside and made to feel an outcast right away. How Ford and his writer presents this isn't very insightful (I'm sure other films have explored the American-Comanche relationship with more depth or subtlety), but it's still entertaining and full of some compelling scenes. And while Ford keeps the drama moving at a nice clip- sometimes leisurely, sometimes with more force like at the dance later in the film- he lets his two stars do a lot of lifting that makes the movie very worthwhile.
Stewart has been this cranky before, but rarely have I found this kind of grumpy but moral Marhsall so well-rounded. We laugh at some of his drunken outbursts because Stewart gives it some irony and sincerity. And there's some real tension brought out between the two characters; when he pulls out a gun he means to use it, even if he doesn't, and it's this uncertainty about him that makes it so interesting (he's not like 'Duke', for example, who you'd expect this kind of behavior). And Widmark is well-cast in this nicer-but-firm role, as a decent man who has to put up with a lot as a friend-partner-watcher of the Marshall, while also putting on a good face to his possible fiancé.
The action is far from heavy here- only one scene with a gun firing at someone, oddly enough it's a pretty weak scene and not well directed by Ford- so it's mostly a character study, more about the decisions they make, the bit players and their words to say in scenes, and what these two men in uniform will do when they complete their mission. By the end their is some redemption and catharsis, and it's not all happy all-around, and its 'issues' it deals with about racial harmony and acceptance is never too heavy-handed. Ford cares about these people, even if he says he's like his Marshall character, just doing it for the money.
Two Rode Together is directed by John Ford and adapted to screenplay by
Frank Nugent from the novel Comanche Captives written by Will Cook. It
stars James Stewart, Richard Widmark, Shirley Jones, Linda Cristal and
Andy Devine. Music is scored by George Duning and Eastman Color
cinematography is by Charles Lawton Junior.
The US Army is under pressure to negotiate the release of Comanche captives and send in a party to ransom for their release. Heading the party are cynical hard drinking Marshal Guthrie McCabe (Stewart) and his pal First Lt. Jim Gary (Widmark). The two men are at odds in how to go about dealing with the problem to hand, but bigger issues are just around the corner.....
The Searchers lite it is for sure, Two Rode Together is a mixed bag that hasn't been helped by the quotes attributed by its director. It's well documented that John Ford only did the film out of kindness and a love of money, the great man going on record to say he hated the film, the source and etc. The shoot was far from being a happy one, with the director pitching his two stars against each other whilst grumpily putting his film crew through the mangler. The end result shows the film to be psychitzophrenic in tone and structure, where airy comedy tries to sit alongside some serious themes and fails miserably. When the moral implications of the picture are to be born out, Ford, in his half-hearted approach to the production, comes off as being either clueless, sarcastically mean or going through the motions since he had already made this film as The Searchers. Well clueless is not something you can comfortably say in relation to this particular director....
However, film has strengths, not least with Stewart's over the top portrayal of McCabe. The actor is really giving it the full treatment, no doubt prompted by his director, this is a shallow man, motivated by ale and cash. This is non heroic stuff, he calls it as he sees it, he thinks nothing off telling the longing relatives of the missing that their loved ones are now alien to them. It's a clinical thread in the piece, deftly setting the film up for its telling last quarter as the moral questions are raised and the bitter irony leaves its sour taste. It's a mixed bag indeed, but hardly a disaster, though, and in spite of Ford's irreverence towards it, there's a worthy viewpoint in amongst all the causticism. It's just a shame that all the great individual aspects don't make a complete and rewarding whole, the blend of comedy and drama, this time, not making for a great John Ford picture. 6.5/10
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