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. –IMDb
Maine-born John Ford (born Sean Aloysius O’Fearna) originally went to Hollywood in the shadow of his older brother, Francis, an actor/writer/director who had worked on Broadway. Originally a laborer, propman’s assistant, and occasional stuntman for his brother, he rose to became an assistant director and supporting actor before turning to directing in 1917. Ford became best known for his Westerns, of which he made dozens through the 1920s, but he didn’t achieve status as a major director until the mid-‘30s, when his films for RKO (The Lost Patrol 1934, The Informer 1935), 20th Century Fox (Young Mr. Lincoln 1939, The Grapes of Wrath 1940), and Walter Wanger (Stagecoach 1939), won over the public, the critics, and earned various Oscars and Academy nominations. His 1940s films included one military-produced documentary co-directed by Ford and cinematographer Gregg Toland, December 7th (1943), which creaks badly today (especially compared with… read more
John Ford's last film of the 50's, and of his myriad of films about the Cavalry, this is the only one to actually take place during the Civil War, recounting a daring Union mission behind enemy lines that turns the tide of Vicksburg. Entertaining, with Wayne and Holden in fine form, and lots of the usual goofy Fordian humor that permeats the masterpieces as well as the lessers, which this is of the latter.
Conflicts and divides present in every frame, illustrating Ford's remarkable use of location - landscapes in particular - to provide a commentary on the narrative. Wayne's portrayal of Colonel Marlowe is also one of his strongest performances, full of the usual Hollywood machismo and stoical self-righteousness, but punctuated by a growing vulnerability and an element of self-doubt.
The National Film Preservation Foundation announced today that the next volume in their invaluable series of DVD releases will be Treasures