The centrepiece of Ford's cavalry trilogy (flanked by Fort Apache and Rio Grande) and a film of both elegiac sentiment and occasionally over-eloquent sentimentality, structured around a series of ritual incidents rather than narrative conflicts. Wayne's captain and McLaglen's sergeant face up to impending retirement from a force whose role and self-awareness is changing in the wake of Custer's defeat; America, however, still has to be willed into existence and unity. Winton Hoch's Technicolor cinematography of Monument Valley (modelled at Ford's insistence on Remington pictorialism) won him an Oscar.
Cast and crew
Laurence Stallings, Frank S Nugent
John Wayne Joanne Dru John Agar Ben Johnson Harry Carey Jr Victor McLaglen Mildred Natwick George O'Brien Arthur Shields