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Film Review:Only the Valiant, Gordon Douglas, 1951

"I hate his black heart too, but he's still the best officer I ever served under." Corporal Gilchrist (Ward Bond)

Only the Valiant


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Only the Valiant, Gordon Douglas, 1951

The action takes place on the frontier where Apache incursions through a pass are bottled up by Fort Invincible. Gregory Peck is the intrepid officer who rules by the book. He insists that the US forts are run according to the military code which does not go down well with the men. Even less well liked is his resolve that prisoners are treated correctly. "He wants to do it all good and proper, according to regulations". Ward Bond is the archetypal Fordian Sergeant/Corporal whose wisdom is based on his intuitive humanity rather than adherence to rules and whose head is often muzzed by his weakness for the whisky bottle.

Peck's devotion to duty leads him to spare Tusos which puts the garrison's force under strain because the Apache will move heaven and earth to recover him. Peck manages to transfer Tusos to Fort Wingate but he is not allowed to accompany him on the second leg of his journey. This is a routine frontier cavalry picture which deals with the petty day to day interaction in the fort against the hostile environment of which the Indians constitute an essential part. Although they are very much the "Other" they are at least drawn into the story albeit they are presented in a stereotypical manner. Not the worst nor the best Western there ever was and not up to comparison to John Ford's best, but worth watching if you are a fan of the Genre. Gregory Peck turns in his usual solid performance.




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Chris Smallbone November 2011
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