She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is a western meller done in the best John Ford manner.
Drama [from James Warner Bellah’s story] of the undermanned US Cavalry post far out in the Indian country is centered on a veteran captain about to retire. It develops into a saga of the cavalry, its hard-bitten men, loyal wives and usual intrigues. The tale moves along easily as it shows how the troop surmounts the Indian peril. There’s hardly a breather from the time the audience is tipped that John Wayne is soon retiring as cavalry captain til he finalizes his last dramatic moment.
Wayne wears well in this somewhat older characterization. He makes the officer an understanding, two-fisted guy without overdoing it. Victor McLaglen gives the production tremendous lift as the whisky-nipping non-com.
1949: Best Color Cinematography