7.5/10
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35 user 26 critic

Sergeant Rutledge (1960)

Approved | | Crime, Western | 28 May 1960 (USA)
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2:27 | Trailer

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Respected black cavalry Sergeant Brax Rutledge stands court-martial for raping and killing a white woman and murdering her father, his superior officer.

Director:

John Ford
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jeffrey Hunter ... Lt. Tom Cantrell
Constance Towers ... Mary Beecher
Billie Burke ... Mrs. Cordelia Fosgate
Woody Strode ... 1st Sgt. Braxton Rutledge
Juano Hernandez ... Sgt. Matthew Luke Skidmore
Willis Bouchey ... Col. Otis Fosgate
Carleton Young ... Capt. Shattuck
Judson Pratt ... Lt. Mulqueen
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Storyline

Lieutenant Tom Cantrell is sent to defend Sergeant Braxton Rutledge, a black cavalry soldier, on a charge of rape and murder. The story begins in a courtroom and it is told through flashbacks. This is a story of how a black soldier in the face of danger from the Indians can be so easily mistaken as a criminal. Written by Christopher D. Ryan <cryan@direct.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Forget all the suspense you have ever seen! Forget all the excitement you have ever known! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 May 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Captain Buffalo See more »

Filming Locations:

Monument Valley, Arizona, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

The horse Jeffrey Hunter rides is an American Quarter Horse with a white blaze. See more »

Goofs

During defense counsel's testimony the lieutenant testifies that he and his men "arrived at Spindle Station shortly after dawn". Judging by the shadows being cast while at the gate it looks like the time would more likely be 10 or 11 a.m. The scene changes to the front of the station and the shadows of the posts are much longer suggesting earlier morning or late afternoon - neither of which are consistent with dawn. See more »

Quotes

[On horseback, Lieutenant Cantrell and some of his officers are escorting Mary Beecher to her home. Rutledge, handcuffed and still wounded from gunfire in his side, rides in the front alongside Cantrell]
Lt. Tom Cantrell: How's the side holding up, Sergeant?
1st Sgt. Braxton Rutledge: [sardonically] You know what they say about us, sir. We heal fast.
Lt. Tom Cantrell: You give me your word you won't try to make an escape, I'll take those irons off you.
1st Sgt. Braxton Rutledge: [Rutledge refuses to look at Cantrell] I can't do that, sir. 'Cause I ain't going back to stand trial.
Lt. Tom Cantrell: Well,...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in John Ford et Monument Valley (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Captain Buffalo
Words and Music by Mack David and Jerry Livingston
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Buffalo Soldier.
8 November 2009 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

It was alright for Mr. Lincoln to say we was free. But that ain't so! Not yet! Maybe some day, but not yet!

John Ford's Sergeant Rutledge tells the story of a black man, 1st Sgt. Braxton Rutledge, a Buffalo Soldier of the 9th U.S. Cavalry who was up before a court-martial for the rape and murder of a white girl, Major Dabney's daughter, Lucy.

Taking place in the court room the story is told in flashback as Rutledge's (Woody Strode) troop officer, and defence council, Lt. Tom Cantrell (Jeffrey Hunter) attempts to piece together the evidence. From the outset Ford is on biting form as the case is being tried in a biased and corruptible court, we as the viewers are left in no doubt that Rutledge could be at the mercy of obnoxious white racists. It's one of the many things that makes the film a bold, and at times, angry picture.

This was after all two years before the critically acclaimed To Kill A Mockingbird, thus making it one of the flag bearers for early acknowledgement of race relations in America.

As the sharp narrative moves forward, cloaked in visual excellence with Bert Glennon this time being Ford's cinematographer of choice, the film always keeps us guessing as to the outcome. We really can never be sure, such is the stench of racism that hangs heavy, a stench that is counter pointed by Woody Strode's wonderful and powerful performance as the on trial man.

Also in fine physical shape at 46, Strode serves notice to just what a fine and important actor he was in relation to Black Americans in Hollywood. Hunter is handsome and potent as the council in the middle of a real tricky trial and Constance Towers as Mary Beecher is the glue binding them, and the story, all together.

It's a first rate picture from Ford, one that is largely (and wrongly) forgotten when talk of his oeuvre comes around. Still awaiting a DVD release in the UK, it's evident that it remains hidden from many a prospective new viewer. That needs correcting because it's bold, beautiful and important cinema from a master director, who, as always, had much to say. 9/10


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