In a year when 68 horse operas saddled up, They Rode West elevated itself above the formulaic Cowboys and Indians setting to stand out.
It follows Dr Allen Seward (Robert Francis), a cavalryman with a strong sense of propriety. Encountering an enemy tribe, the cavalry is surprised at the lack of resistance, and discovers the tribe has been infected with malaria. Unless they receive immediate medical attention the men will die. Captain Peter Blake (Phil Carey) orders Seward not to intervene, whilst Laurie MacKaye (Donna Reed) demands actions based on humanity, and not hatred. Seward’s decision cannot appease them both, and meanwhile time is running out for the tribe.
Skirting past melodrama, director Phil Karlson used his training as a law student to take an intelligent approach to the theme of justice; his career on numerous other ‘B’ movies is also displayed in the skill with which character and story are established. Columbia, the studio financing the picture, showed their support by shooting the film in Technicolor, adding a rich layer to the excellent location work.
Robert Francis made only three other pictures, including The Caine Mutiny (1954) before a fatal plane crash ended his career. Donna Reed would keep the Stetson for her later appearances as Miss Ellie in Dallas.
USA / 84 minutes / 1954
Writers:De Vallon Scott, Frank Nugent (from a story by Leo Katcher),
Donna Reed as Laurie MacKaye
Robert Francis as Dr. Allen Seward
Onslow Stevens as Col. Ethan Waters
Peggy Converse as Mrs. Martha Walters
Jack Kelly as Lt. Raymond
Stuart Randall as Chief Satanta
Eugene Iglesias as Red Leaf
Ralph Dumke as Dr. Gibson
May Wynn as Manyi-ten
John War Eagle as Chief Quanah
Philip Carey as Peter Blake
Frank De Kova as Isatai
Roy Roberts as Sgt. Creever
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