It would be nearly impossible for Gary Cooper to follow up his Oscar-winning performance in High Noon with as great as a Western, but Springfield Rifle is more than rousingly entertaining. It is well-written and although it has some lapses in logic, it does have good plotting.
Cooper plays a disgraced Union major from Virginia who falls in with Confederate raiders who are stealing Union horses and supplying them to the Confederacy. Little do the raiders know that Cooper's disgrace is a counterintelligence plot by the Union to discover the leader of the raiders and to find out who is the Union traitor who is supplying the Rebels information.
Complete with fistfights, shootouts, and double crosses, this film does not hesitate in killing major characters off, but this is a necessity of the plot, otherwise, the movie wouldn't go anywhere. Cooper seems more virile and alive than he did in Springfield Rifle, and had not reached the level of his later Westerns, almost all of which were entertaining and enjoyable, but saw him playing a tired, world-weary man who just wants to find something to believe in. Cooper still seemed young and energetic enough to pull off a believable, engaging hero.
Springfield Rifle deserves a DVD release, if for no other reason that to display one of Gary Cooper's last vigorous Western performances.