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>
Exceptional John Sturges western with another sterling William Holden performance
During the Civil War, Union captain at an Arizona fort chases down a group of deserters on their way to Texas (including the woman the captain loves, who aided in the band's escape), but all involved become trapped in a desert trench by bloodthirsty Indians. Director John Sturges' 18th film looks pretty fantastic when it ventures outdoors, due to Robert Surtees' robust cinematography. However, the M-G-M production suffers visually when mixing location shots with exterior scenes filmed in-doors (this despite foliage and a waterfall to compliment a fight sequence). Sturges keeps a fast pace, though the picture isn't tightly-wound; the narrative is episodic and drifts, with only William Holden's deeply-felt work in the lead to hold most of it together. Holden's captain, who rarely smiles and seldom has emotions, evolves into a strong, loyal character--he's the heart of this piece. I'm not sure how well-matched the actor is with Eleanor Parker (who does her usual blank-eyed, open-mouthed silent suffering), however his declaration of love for her is convincing, thanks to Holden's sincerity. The bravura third act heats up with tense excitement as the Indians close in. This is where Sturges really comes to the fore and shows what he can do with familiar material. **1/2 from ****
8 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this