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4.4 out of 5 stars65
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 1 July 2009
I've seen this film several times on the big screen in Ford retrospectives and the "Remington style" of the photography is awesomely beautiful. But this Turner reconstruction is a muddy print that badly serves the original -- hence only 3 stars. How come a minor Ford/Wayne collaboration 3 Godfathers is available in a superb DVD version and this film and The Quiet Man (both cinematography Oscar winners) are only available in poor prints?
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 May 2014
Made in 1949, this second part of John Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy" (coming after "Fort Apache" and preceding "Rio Grande") didn't age one bit and still remains today a great viewing - me for one, I can watch it again and again and again... Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

Like "Fort Apache" and "Rio Grande", this film was adapted from a short story written by James Warner Bellah - later he would also co-author the scenario of "The man who shot Liberty Valance".

The film begins, when aging US Cavalry Capt. Nathan C. Brittles (John Wayne) is given one last mission, even if he is on the verge of retirement. He has to deal with a breakout from the reservation by the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes - those Indians left the reservation after hearing news about the defeat of Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He must also by the same occasion escort two ladies, Abby "Old Iron Pants" Allshard (Mildred Natwick, splendid!) and especially the young and charming Olivia Dandridge (Joanne Dru, adorable), to a safe place away from the isolated outpost in wilderness. Things are a little bit complicated by two of his officers, 1st Lt. Cohill (John Agar) and 2nd Lt. Pennell (Harry Carey, Jr.), fighting for the affections of Miss Dandridge...

The film is frequently very moving and sometimes solemn, but also contains TONS of humour and the general tone is in the same time touching, heart-warming and optimistic - something mostly missing nowadays from the movies...

John Wayne (aged for the needs of the scenario by carefully applied make up and hair dye) is of course the main star of this film, but he certainly doesn't monopolise the screen time. In fact, another of the reasons why this film is such a masterpiece is the large time and latitude given to the secondary characters, especially Top Sergeant Quincannon, played wonderfully by Victor McLaglen and Sergeant Tyree, formerly known as Captain Tyree (in times when he served with Confederate cavalry), played impressively well by Ben Johnson. Do not miss also Private John Smith - he appears only in a short scene, but it is an extremely powerful one...

This film, even more that "Fort Apache", is a tribute to the works, fights and tribulations of US Cavalry in the Wild West plains in the years which followed the War Between States - and in this aspect also it succeeds greatly.

This is one of those films everybody should see at least once in a lifetime, a masterpiece made by one of the greatest directors ever, at a time when he was at the very top of his game... To buy, watch and keep ABSOLUTELY! Enjoy!
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This was the kind of film I watched as a kid: all the good guys were handsome, indians formed an essentially indiscriminate mass of whooping killers, and the backdrops they rode through were reddish fakes. Still, this is a truly great viewing experience, with vivid characters, plenty of humor, and a good plot.

Wayne is an old calvary captain about to retire, going on his last mission, which included 2 tough women in wagons to slow him down. He is an honest galoot, loved by his men, and wise from experience. Interestingly, the story begins right at the moment that Little Big Man ends, with the coalition of tribes that killed Custer, who is present as a cherished memory. So they set out on patrol and to deliver the women to the stage coach and safety. However, along the way, it turns into a dangerous cat and mouse with the Indians, in particular the Cheyenne, and there are many good episodes of near slaughter. Wayne does his best. THere is also a subplot where the younger girl must choose between 2 officers, who are at each other for the whole film. Finally, as he is about to retire, Wayne evolves and changes his mission to one of preserving peace.

Bristling with stereotypes as it is, this is a fun film. It is only that, as a history enthusiast who grew up rebellious in the 1960s, I see it with very different eyes than I did as a boy in the 1950s. In a way, the subtext - what a different place America was before the Vietnam War - was present in my mind during the whole viewing. It made me feel deeply nostalgic but also fascinated. There is not a single jot of cynicism in the film, not even the blaring patriotic marches of the soundtrack were intended to reflect the irony that they would today, and empathy for the plights of the Indians is utterly missing in all the nationalistic fervor. Indeed, that perspective made it doubly enjoyable for me to watch, though my European wife was uniformly critical of it throughout. However, my kids would not enjoy this, though we will certainly watch it for purposes of discussion.

Recommended for all these reasons.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 October 2011
The second instalment of the acclaimed John Ford cavalry trilogy had a lot to live up to me personally based on my joy with Fort Apache. So it is with a little sadness that I write that this film failed to live up to the promise of Apache as regards a pulsing heartbeat, but that said, there's still so much to enjoy here; and I still find myself grinning in the way that only good cinema can make me.

The theme here is the passing of time, time and love lost, lest we forget indeed, these themes give the film a good core to work from, but as good as an affecting character piece as this is, you still scratch around for something to lift your adrenalin juices out of first gear. And while it doesn't happen exactly, anyone being forewarned about the nature of the beast will be richly rewarded regardless.

John Wayne gives a top notch performance in what is obviously one of the first out and out serious roles that Ford gave him. His ageing Captain Nathan Brittles requires him to put in a very human fallible performance, something that he achieves in spades; a believable leader ruing the calling of time on his career in the service. Yet even Wayne's affecting turn is trumped by some of the the most gorgeous cinematography you could wish to see from the 1940s. Winton Hoch clashed with Ford on the shoot about various perfections {both parties equally to blame of course}, but the final result is incredible, witness a scene as Brittles visits his dead wife's grave, the backdrop is all purple and red, a storm imminent, has shooting in the desert ever been so lush?

The film leaves an indelible mark on the conscious for its art and performances, but as a story it just about stays on the good side of safe. 7/10 for the film and its structure, 10/10 for the artistry involved.

Footnote: This release is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio.
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on 21 November 2001
Centring on the events surrounding the retirement of Captain Nathan Brittles (John Wayne).Within the fort the vaeious relationships provide A perfect balance of quiet drama and light hearted humour. Rebellious Indians outside the fort give worthwhile action drama. Add to this the spectacular scenery of Monument Valley and you could not ask for more. First released in 1949 is proof of it's durability as a classic.
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on 24 November 2010
This film is representative of a great era in film making the likes of which have long gone. The characterisation of all the main players is what makes the film so enjoyabble even if by todays standards the storyline in probably dated.Todays films in contrast rarely stand the test of time and I rarely watch or wish to watch such a film twice. This film ranks with other greats such as The Searchers, Rio bravo , Shane to mention just a few which I can never tire of watching.
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on 4 May 2007
John Ford can be taken to task for his sentimentalization of male violence (usually involving Victor McLaglen thumping people), and for his representation of native Americans (forever the "Other"), but he also abides as one of cinema's greatest visual poets - a master of deep composition, and of kinetic marvels - has anyone ever filmed horses at full gallop so wonderfully well? Only Kurosawa, Ford's sole rival in portraying lyrical action. This film is full of beauty and excitment and has some stirring music too; the use of a voice-over dates it a little, and it doesn't quite have a clean finish, but the visuals are awesome, and John Wayne is superb. If you love cinema, you'll surely love this.
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on 18 June 2016
This is for the blu ray version just watched it and what a transfer superb quality picture colours are so vibrant a classic film in it's own right but as good as it is so much better on blu ray sorry did't buy it here.
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on 24 February 2016
Best film ever and best of all is that all the family can watch it together. John Wayne's acting in this film is outstanding as always. I would say it's a must buy. If I could give it more star's I would
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on 18 July 2010
An excellent film from it's day with as always a strong performance from big John, a good story and well supported
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