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Guns Of Fort Petticoat, The (1957, Audie Murphy, Kathryn Grant)

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Engaging western action-romance with a feminine twist featuring Audie Murphy as a Union soldier who skips detail rather than partake in an unprovoked attack on some Comanches at Sand Creek. Realising that the tribe will retaliate, and knowing that most of Texas’s men-folk are away fighting in the Civil War, he sets out to save the nearby settlement’s fair damsels. At first, they are wary of him, treating him like a traitor. But he soon wins their trust (and in the case of Kathryn Grant, a good deal more). Holing up in a deserted mission base, he transforms the willing ladies into a crack squad, capable of defending themselves from the inevitable attack.

Having survived the ensuing onslaught, Murphy returns to the army to face court marshal for desertion. But just as it’s beginning to look bleak for him, Grant and her trigger-happy companions turn up to speak out on his behalf.

Audie Murphy’s baby-face features belie one of cinema’s true hard men. Murphy (who co-produced the movie) rose to fame as America’s most decorated GI during the Second World War, with some 240 kills under his belt earning him 24 gongs that included the Congressional Medal of Honour. His heroic exploits are recorded in the 1955 film To Hell and Back, in which he also starred. In 1948, Hollywood wooed him west to appear in Beyond Glory, and he spent the next 15 years acting mostly in westerns. Hard times hit in the late ’60s, when he went bankrupt and was cleared of murdering a fellow boozer in a bar room brawl. He died in a plane-crash in 1971.

Director George Marshall’s finest films were comedies (he worked with luminaries such as Laurel and Hardy, Bob Hope and W C Fields during a prodigious career). Although The Guns of Fort Petticoat isn’t an outright comedy, it’s enormous fun thanks to the premise, energetic action sequences and Marshall’s gentle sense of humour.

production details
USA | 82 minutes | 1957

Director: George Marshall
Writer: Walter Doniger (from an original story by C William Harrison)

cast
Audie Murphy as Lt. Frank Hewitt
Kathryn Grant as Anne Martin
Patricia Tiernan as Stella Leatham
Ray Teal as Salt Pork
Jeanette Nolan as Cora Melavan
James Griffith as Kipper
Hope Emerson as Hannah Lacey
Jeff Donnell as Mary Wheller
Sean McClory as Emmett Kettle
Nestor Paiva as Tortilla