Thursday, Nov 2020
Director: John Ford
Screenwriters: James Warner Bellah & Willis Goldbeck
Length: 111 minutes
Theme Song: Captain Buffalo by David Mack & Jerry Livingston
Released: 1960

sergeant rutledge posterAn unusual and compelling film from Mr. Ford. It contains many of the characters and elements of other Ford Westerns as well powerful social commentary. Sergeant Rutledge (Woody Strode) is a black cavalryman who is accused of rape and murder. The movie is set in the courtroom where Rutledge is being tried. Details of the crime and Rutledge's involvement are revealed using flashbacks. The courtroom fades to black as the flashbacks begin. The story is suspenseful and riveting. And the characters, especially Rutledge, are well developed. Ford portrays the Buffalo Soldiers as good soldiers and men of great dignity.

Some commentators have said that Ford made Sergeant Rutledge to atone for racial stereotyping in his earlier films. What ever his motivations, Ford effectively addresses issues of race and sexuality. The film is certainly bold for 1960.

The story twists and turns toward a final Perry Mason moment, where the guilty party breaks down and confesses on the stand. Until the confession, it is unclear who did the dastardly deed.

The flashbacks contain most of the action. The soldiers chase renegade Indians through Monument Valley. The shots in the valley are beautiful and appropriate. The imposing rock structures are as immovable as the racial stereotypes that the film approaches. A solid Must See here at Couch Cowboy.

Cast:

  • Jeffrey Hunter.... Lt. Tom Cantrell, Defense Atty.
  • Constance Towers....Mary Beecher
  • Billie Burke.... Mrs. Cordelia Fosgate
  • Woody Strode.... First Sergeant Braxton Rutledge (Top Soldier)
  • Juano Hernandez.... Sergeant Matthew Luke Skidmore
  • Willis Bouchey.... Col. Otis Fosgate, President of Court-Martial
  • Carleton Young.... Captain Shattuck, Prosecutor
  • Judson Pratt.... Lieutenant Mulqueen, Court-Martial Boardmember
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