7.2/10
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71 user 31 critic

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

In 1863, a Union outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in Mississippi to destroy enemy railroads but a captive southern belle and the unit's doctor cause frictions within ranks.

Director:

John Ford

Writers:

John Lee Mahin (written for the screen by), Martin Rackin (written for the screen by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Col. John Marlowe
William Holden ... Maj. Henry Kendall
Constance Towers ... Hannah Hunter
Judson Pratt ... Sgt. Maj. Kirby
Hoot Gibson ... Sgt. Brown
Ken Curtis ... Cpl. Wilkie
Willis Bouchey ... Col. Phil Secord
Bing Russell ... Dunker
O.Z. Whitehead ... Hoppy Hopkins
Hank Worden ... Deacon Clump
Chuck Hayward ... Union Captain
Denver Pyle ... Jackie Jo
Strother Martin ... Virgil
Basil Ruysdael ... Commandant
Carleton Young ... Col. Jonathan Miles
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Storyline

A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the commander. The secret plan for the mission is overheard by a southern belle who must be taken along to assure her silence. The Union officers each have different reasons for wanting to be on the mission. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

...Rides Where Only The Great Ones Go! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

July 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der letzte Befehl See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Color by Deluxe)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although there are several battle scenes, John Wayne's character does not fire a single shot on screen in the entire film. See more »

Goofs

After the battle at Newton Station, MAJ Kendall is talking to COL Miles after recovering from his surgery. Behind them is a map of the southern US. However, this is not a map of the Confederacy. It still shows Florida split into West Florida and East Florida and Mississippi (where the battle is set), Alabama, Indiana and Illinois (among other states) are shown as territories and not states. This map must pre-date 1800, which is out of place for a movie set 60+ years later. See more »

Quotes

Major Kendall: Now come off it Colonel, even you were born.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Directed by John Ford (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

Dixie
(uncredited)
Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
Played during the charge of the Military Academy students
See more »

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User Reviews

Possibly Ford's most underrated work
17 August 2010 | by jandesimpsonSee all my reviews

The fields, woodlands and rivers of Tennassee drenched in summer sunlight are in stark contrast to the horrors of civil war as depicted in John Ford's "The Horse Soldiers". John Wayne's mission to lead a troop of Yankee soldiers behind Confederate lines to destroy a railway base vital to the South's supply lines is fraught with danger. Skirmishes inevitably result in injuries and death, the former often giving rise to amputations. Although made well before the time that the full appalingness of warfare come to be depicted in films such as "Saving Captain Ryan", from "Drums Along the Mohawk" onwards Ford never shirked the unpleasant. Incurable romantic that he was, he gave his work a hard edge whenever it was needed. Although the term "road movie" to categorise films based on journeys was not then in general usage, this fascinating work, with horses replacing cars, stands as one of the genres finest examples. And yet, judging from many of this site's user comments, it remains one of Ford's most under appreciated films. I find this rather strange as it contains most of the ingredients that are the hallmarks of those generally regarded as masterworks, westerns such as "The Searchers", "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and "My Darling Clementine", not forgetting his glorious Irish romp, "The Quiet Man". A shrew is tamed, there is a measure of drunken knockabout and the soundtrack pulsates with rousing cavalry tunes and bugle calls. I have no quarrel with the fact that it is episodic rather than tightly knit. This somehow makes it all the more compatible with its journeying structure. Each episode on the way is brought out in sharp relief, be it the Southern belle's false hospitality and attempted betrayal, the central climax at the railroad station or the delightful interlude of the attack by the boy soldiers from the Confederate military academy (one of my favourite sequences from any Ford film). John Wayne plays what is almost a variation on his Ethan role in "The Searchers", his anger here not vent on Indians but on the medical profession which he holds responsible for his wife's death. His embittered relationship with his company's medical officer played by William Holden gives this otherwise picaresque film a strong dramatic unity. I can only advise those who consider this one of Ford's minor works to see it several times. From my own experience I find it emerges stronger on each viewing.


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