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Escape from Fort Bravo (1953)

Passed | | Western | 4 December 1953 (USA)
During the Civil War, a group of Confederates escapes from the Union POW camp at Fort Bravo but has to contend with the desert, the Mescalero Apaches and the pursuing Union troops.

Director:

John Sturges

Writers:

Frank Fenton (screenplay), Phillip Rock (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
William Holden ... Capt. Roper
Eleanor Parker ... Carla Forester
John Forsythe ... Capt. John Marsh
William Demarest ... Campbell
William Campbell ... Cabot Young
Polly Bergen ... Alice Owens
Richard Anderson ... Lt. Beecher
Carl Benton Reid ... Col. Owens
John Lupton ... Bailey
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Storyline

A ruthless Union captain is renowned throughout his prison fort as the toughest soldier in the business, capable of capturing every escaped convict under his supervision. However, when he falls in love with a visiting woman some of the prisoners seize the advantage and try to escape while he is in a more "mellow" mood. Written by Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

M.G.M.s Great Romance Excitingly photographed in Ansco Color.

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 December 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fort Bravo See more »

Filming Locations:

Rattlesnake, New Mexico, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,520,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,450,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,158,000, 31 December 1953
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color (Anscocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William Holden did not shave his chest for his shirtless scene in this movie (as he did for most of his other "beefcake" scenes of the 1950s), thus giving audiences one of their best looks at his normally lush growth of chest hair. See more »

Goofs

When Capt. Roper is camping with his troop for the night and hears the noise of Mescaleros chasing a stagecoach the scene goes from night time to bright sunny day to night time again by the time the stagecoach comes to a complete stop (19:07 to 20:18). See more »

Quotes

Capt. Roper: Did you fire that shot?
Cabot Young: Yep!
Capt. Roper: In any other place than this, I'd thank you.
Cabot Young: In any other place, you wouldn't get the chance!
Capt. Roper: Keep the gun!
See more »

Connections

Edited into How the West Was Won (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

When Johnny Comes Marching Home
(uncredited)
Written by Louis Lambert
See more »

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User Reviews

MGM Over-Produces a Western
6 August 2007 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

No need to repeat an oft-repeated story-line. The movie has two things going for it-- William Holden in an earnest performance, and some spectacular A-level scenery, some of which appears shot in the uncredited Sedona, Arizona area. Otherwise, the film is simply too flawed to rank among the better Westerns.

Apparently the studio had to really sweeten the pot to get the Oscar-nominated (twice) Eleanor Parker to lower herself into a macho Western. As a result, a number of crippling compromises occur. Her part is over-inflated for more screen time, even though these showcase scenes seriously sap the action. Altogether such concessions undercut the degree of tightness and pacing that would hold interest throughout. Instead, we get some badly constructed studio sets meant to accommodate her many outdoor love scenes. These do have a point in the plot, nonetheless they're seriously overdrawn. Then too-- as another reviewer perceptively notes-- her flashy costumes, spangled hair, and immaculate make-up resemble nothing so much as a countess entering the royal court, and this in the middle of deadly Apache territory to which she has traveled in a tiny stage compartment. This is what happens when a studio places star-power above believability.

I could go on about the damage done by hiring a diva to fatten up marquee appeal-- consider, for example, the casual shopping trip across Apache country that has all the care-freeness of a trip to an 1860's frontier mall-- but you get the idea. Had glamor-obsessed MGM wanted to make a real Western, Parker's part would have gone to the modest-looking and acting Polly Bergen, whose part, as it is, is about the size of a postage stamp.

There are other poorly thought-out flaws-- such as Confederate prisoners who one and all speak as if they were born in Chicago, or the ridiculous prisoners' pen that's supposed to discourage the massed Johnny-rebs from charging a single armed guard. My guess is that the studio didn't put up a more plausible barbed-wire fence because that would have reflected badly on the Union captors. Be that as it may, I'm ready to put up with some concessions to Hollywood commercialism in a good horse opera. But this one simply has too many compromises without enough compensation. (The well-staged arrow barrage is both novel and fascinating, but is about the only dramatic highlight.) Had the less image-conscious Columbia studio done the movie with, say, Budd Boetticher and the Ranown company, we could have gotten something special. However, the way this film stands, maybe a good story lurks inside all that glitz and fat , but it still awaits proper treatment.


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