Randolph Scott plays Captain Tom Benson of the 7th Cavalry, given permission to leave the fort to go and meet his fiancee Martha Kellogg (Barbara Hale). However, when they return, the fort is almost deserted apart from a few soldiers being held for criminal offences watched over by Sgt Bates (Jay C Flippen). From him, Benson learns the terrible turth – the rest of the fort, lead by General Custer, rode out to engage in the Battle of Little Big Horn.
Branded a coward for being absent from his post (despite having official permission to leave), he redeems himself by leading a burial party to the site of the battle, despite the presence of Sioux and Cheyenne, still drunk on victory. They bar his path but just as conflict looks inevitable, a survivor of the battle appears and the almost mystical appearance sees Benson able to complete his mission in peace.
Lewis’ film is more cerebral than action-packed but Scott’s performance as a soldier wrongly ostracised who seeks redemption in his own eyes and those of his comrades and fiancée is powerful enough to carry the drama and the Californian scenery is stunningly epic.
USA | 75 minutes | 1956
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Writer: Peter Packer, from a story by Glendon F Swarthout
Randolph Scott as Capt. Tom Benson
Barbara Hale as Martha Kellogg
Jay C. Flippen as Sgt. Bates
Frank Faylen as Sgt. Kruger
Harry Carey, Jr. as Cpl. Morrison
Denver Pyle as Dixon
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