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…
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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.
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.
Pretty unremarkable John Wayne Western. Nice cast of William Holden, stunning Constance Towers (a world away from the depth Fuller's films would allow her to mine) and tennis superstar (!) Althea Gibson as a servant (!!). Never seems to want to end, yet strangely has an abrupt sudden stop.