Easy to disparage Ford's last feature, a bizarre transposition of a classic Western situation into war-torn China of the '30s, with a group of WASP women trapped at a mission besieged by brutal Mongols. The plot is almost formulaic, the fear of miscegenation outdated, a made-up Mazurki as the Mongol leader faintly ludicrous. But in many ways this does qualify as the director's mature masterpiece of his twilight years, partly because he is for once treating women as more than just (h)earth mothers, partly because his sympathies lie so completely with Bancroft, who manages to face a fate worse than death with admirable stoicism. The sense of menacing claustrophobia and sexual repression is beautifully conveyed by the studio setting; the shifting relationships between the women are handled with lucid economy; and the film is totally devoid of the sentimentality that mars so much of Ford's work.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||John McCormick, Janet Green|