Sergeant Rutledge

Film, Action and adventure

Time Out says

Though often pigeonholed as one of Ford's late trio of guiltily amends-making movies (to blacks here; to Indians in Cheyenne Autumn; to women in Seven Women), Sergeant Rutledge is both more complex and infinitely more confused than that simplistic formula would suggest. Possessing in broad outline an integrationist perspective (at a time when the Civil Rights movement was gaining strength), it's riddled with liberal compromises and evasions with its portrait of Strode's dignified black cavalry sergeant on trial for alleged miscegenatory rape. Ford can show us an innocent victim of American racism, and stress in courtroom flashbacks his heroic credentials in white man's uniform, but he can never make the leap to offering us a black who actually rejects the role of honorary white. He can make the cinepolitical connection back to The Birth of a Nation (by the bit-casting of Mae Marsh, the rape victim in Griffith's film) and consider his film compensatory, but he can't confront the cultural fear of miscegenation that mechanises both movies, only its distorted expression.

By: PT


Release details

118 mins

Cast and crew

John Ford
James Warner Bellah, Willis Goldbeck
Jeffrey Hunter
Woody Strode
Constance Towers
Billie Burke
Carleton Young
Juano Hernandez
Willis Bouchey
Mae Marsh
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