In this surprisingly astringent frontier tale, the Fordian motif of the stern commander gradually winning the respect of a motley Cavalry troop (boozy Irishman Bond among them) almost elides into the anti-authoritarian dynamic of The Dirty Dozen. When a vital fort guarding a mountain pass is threatened by gathering Indians, Peck's stone-faced captain picks the most disposable bunch of malcontents and psychos to hold out until reinforcements arrive, whereupon various personal animosities bring them closer to killing him than the enemy. The often brutal physical confrontations (even a hint of The Wild Bunch in the bullet-splattered finale) show the kind of edge the prolific Douglas could deliver when he put his mind to it, and a sinewy, unsympathetic Peck impresses. (From a novel by Charles Marquis Warren.
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