During the Indian Wars in the Southwest, a sergeant assumes command of a cavalry detachment after it is mauled in an Apache ambush that killed its captain and seriously wounded its lieutenant. The surviving troopers must reach either a larger cavalry column or a wagon train the column is to escort. But first they need water and the nearest water hole is in Apache hands....Written by
Opening credits: All events, characters, firms and institutions in this photoplay are fictitious, and any similarity to any persons, living or dead, or to any actual events or to any actual firms or institutions is coincidental and unintentional. See more »
Forrest Tucker's Irish accent constantly comes and goes throughout the movie. See more »
[Vinson's cavalry patrol hurriedly buries a dead trooper]
Collins, that deep enough. Roll him in and cover him up. Let's move!
You mean without reading the Good Book?
If he needs our help to make it upstairs, he's in worse shape than he looks.
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The patrol movie has been a staple of cinema since its very early days and has cut across many genres including the war movie and ,as in this case,the Western.The setting is New Mexico in the late 1870's and a platoon of the US Cavalry is trying to make its way back to base under less than auspicious circumstances .Its officers are all dead ,killed in action by the Apache,and its leader,by default is Sergeant Vinson (Joel McCrae -cast in a rare unsympathetic role).Vinson is neither liked nor trusted by his men who believe that he is so embittered by the death of his wife at the hands of the Apache that his judgement is flawed and that he will risk their lives for his own revenge .His bellicose attitude seems to reinforce this belief as he orders an attack on a superior force of the enemy as they camp by a waterhole ,with heavy loss of life.This is not the only encounter with the enemy as he and his men take shelter at a seemingly abandoned adobe dwelling where he is besieged by the Apache.
Shot wholly on location by the estimable Carl Guthrie this a tight ,taut movie that moves with pace and efficiency .The acting is excellent with special praise to MacRae ,John Russell as an educated drifter turned soldier Travis ,who becomes a confidante to Vinson ,Forrest Tucker as Irish born trooper McGurney (the role Andrew McClaglen usually played in John Ford pictures)and Anthony Caruso as the Native scout Pawnee .McRae in particular shows us that he could play morally complex and driven characters every bit as well as did James Stewart in his movies for Anthony Mann .Vinson is an angry and bitter man ,qualities the actor brings out well Joseph M Newman directs briskly and stages some lively action sequences in what is a predictable but highly entertaining minor Western
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