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JOHN FORD'S fine tribute to the US Cavalry in this first of a loose trilogy,
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This review is from: Fort Apache (John Wayne) [DVD] (DVD)
FORT APACHE (1948) was John Ford's and John Wayne's first western together since STAGECOACH (1939) they would go on to make six more culminating in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962). This film was also the first of what became known as Ford's Cavalry Trilogy. The others were SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) and RIO GRANDE (1950) and were Ford's splendid tribute to the U.S. Cavalry and as such deserve to be judged as a body of work that as yet has no equal!
Wayne in this film shares top billing with Henry Fonda who a couple of years earlier had starred as the hero Wyatt Earp in John Ford's marvellous My Darling Clementine (1946) this time Ford has him cast as the unsympathetic martinet Lt Col Owen Thursday against the experienced Captain Kirby York (John Wayne). Incidentally when Wayne reprised this role for the last outing in the trilogy in Rio Grande he not only gained promotion but an extra letter to his name by becoming Lt Col Kirby Yorke. Also starring Shirley Temple and John Agar as the young lovers (who were actually married at the time of filming) and last but not least Victor McLagen for his Irish Sergeant part in the trilogy
As with the rest of the trilogy the story is taken from a novel by James Warner Bellah story is basically a study of frontier life against the backdrop of the Indian Wars and the end bears more than a passing resemblance to Custer's Last Stand with the Fonda character leading his men into an Apache massacre from which few return. The final theme when it's all over was "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend" which would be used to such good effect in another James Warner Bellah story the aforementioned THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE some fourteen years later.
This 2006 DVD release is a good transfer with beautiful black and white images on the skyline, swirling dust clouds and the wonderful detailed domestic settings in the fort, all in the director's best manner! Divided into 18 chapters for easy access, also available with subtitles but little else in the way of extras. But still excellent value from Amazon at a very attractive price