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7th Cavalry
Western

1956 | 16:9 WIDESCREEN | COLOR | Quality: Very Good - color seems faded in some areas but very watchable

Randolph Scott

Barbara Hale

Jay C. Flippen


$9.99

Captain Tom Benson (Randolph Scott) returns to Fort Lincoln from the east with his new bride-to-be, Martha (Barbara Hale), only to find out that his unit under General Custer's command has been totally wiped out at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Adding to his sorrow, Benson is confronted by a widow who blames him for the death of her husband (who had taken Benson's place in the battle), and Benson finds most of his fellow servicemen consider him a coward. Benson is guilt-ridden and desperate for a chance to redeem himself, which comes via a presidential order for the army to go into Sioux territory and gather up Custer's dead for burial. Benson quickly volunteers for the dangerous mission, but he has a tall task ahead of him as he commands a troop that has little respect for him, and the Big Horn is still surrounded by hostile Sioux and Cheyenne who are drunk with victory!

An extremely interesting western that deals with survivor guilt and redemption using the famous Battle of Little Big Horn as the backdrop. The story deals with the aftermath, not the battle itself, so anyone looking for an epic confrontation in the manner of THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON or even one as budget conscious as that in THE GREAT SIOUX MASSACRE is bound to be disappointed. However, there are rewards to be found - one of them Scott's performance. Even at about age 57 or 58, he still looks splendid in a uniform, and while of course doubles are used in two fight scenes, there's enough of him present to debunk the rumor that he was not exactly at his best in such scenes. In the inquest scene alone he delivers more dialog than he probably had in his previous three films, and does so convincingly. This scene also features testimony by Captain Benteen and Major Reno, two survivors of the battle who are treated sympathetically. The cast is filled with familiar faces, including Michael Pate, Leo Gordon and Harry Carey, Jr., all more recognizable as being part of the Duke's stock company. Add to that Frank Faylen and Jay C. Flippen, as well as Barbara Hale who did deserve more screen time. Just about all are questioning Scott's decision to voluntarily take a patrol to retrieve the dead from the massacre site, but Scott's reasons are to redeem himself for various reasons to each. A nice touch is in the scene where Scott questions a Sioux "peacemaker" who claims that the bodies, cavalry included, are all now part of sacred ground and instill in each brave the courage and honor of the tribe that conquered them. Scott asks if this is not just mere "superstition" whereas the brave turns the term back at Scott relative to his own spiritual beliefs. This was heady stuff in the mid-fifties when Judeo-Christian beliefs were treated with extreme reverence.

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