|Poster for Sergeant Rutledge. Note that Woody Strode's billing is eeny teeny.|
|Sergeant Rutledge quiets Mary Beecher as Apache warriors prowl nearby.|
|A courtroom scene with Hunter as Cantrell, Strode as Rutledge and Young as Shattuck.|
It was because the Ninth Cavalry was my home, my real freedom, and my self-respect, and the way I was desertin' it, I wasn't . . . nuthin' worse than a swamp-runnin' nigger, and I ain't that! Do you hear me? I'm a man!The story ends very Perry Mason-like when the post's sutler confesses to the crime, and Sergeant Rutledge is seen riding off with his command to the melody of "Captain Buffalo."
|Jeffrey Hunter as Lt. Cantrell, Rutledge's defender. Yawn.|
Filmed in Monument Valley, the movie is beautiful. Unfortunately it can't disguise some of its problems. This is a serious movie with a serious theme. Yet, Ford persisted in playing a good deal of it for laughs. Lots of drinking jokes, lots of silly patter between the members of the court-martial are unfunny and unnecessary. The lame attempt at romance between Cantrell and Beecher goes nowhere and is uninteresting. The ending in which the true criminal is revealed feels tacked on and unsatisfying. The portrayal of some of the black cavalrymen seems stereotyped and one dimensional.
Yet, for all that, Ford took on an important topic for its time. He portrayed a subject, African Americans in the frontier U.S. Army which few people knew about in 1960. Ford took Rutledge's character and together with Strode gave him dimension. This is a difficult DVD to find. It is only available as part of the John Ford Collection, but it is definitely worth your time.