Not sure I understand the hype on this one, except to say that it has its moments of magnificent subtlety and gorgeous photography. Most of all, it strikes me as an artifact on how, when Old Hollywood tells a story of a dignified black man, the actor playing said black man doesn't even get top billing. As always, Ford's mixture of simplicity and subtext, grace and over-the-top hamminess, can give you whiplash.
Cinematography by Bert Glennon. "Desire list": Extraordinary film that culminates in statism- from static- the ideological twist that Ford executed from the 60's until his final masterpiece. To this static movement, fixity of a pale portrait of a racist community, the solemn and aristocratic grandeur of Woody Strode's face is essential, a name that phonetically could sound as "would-stroke", which is, in his royalty.
Masterpiece. Without question, major Ford. …but the deus ex machina left me conflicted. On the one hand, it preserves a complex network of culpability that touches virtually every character in the film. At the same time, it's a jarring and crude bit of writing… that Ford more or less surmounts—incredible to behold the master transfigure such garbage with one cut to close-up, a line of dialogue and a fade.
Ford used what could be a banal story of a "courtroom drama" to deepen the close relationship between cinema and the perception, the images and prejudices, the honor of the innocent and the power of the military hierarchy. Through a stunning play of light and shadows, the filmmaker focuses the story of each witness with an extraordinary emotional depth in flashbacks that complement each other and interlace ...
The only Ford film that has had the effect of making my eyes water so far. Woody's tearful courtroom plea for dignity as a man and respect as a U.S Cavalryman - probably my favorite scene in any Ford film. His performance as Top Rutledge was rather stiff at times, but then again, so were John Wayne's. I'd recommend it for anyone interested in how Ford evolved as an artist towards the end of his career. 90/100
Film méconnu du grand Ford qui aborde avec bonheur les thèmes du racisme et de l'injustice. A mettre en parallèle avec certains films de Jewison ou de Kramer dans la dénonciation de problème racial blanc / noir. A voir pour compléter sa connaissance de la filmographie de John Ford... www.cinefiches.com