Give John Ford a company of brawny men, let him train his cameras on the US cavalry and provide a script with plenty of action and he's off on the road to glory. In The Horse Soldiers, which involves a little-known incident in the Civil War, all these elements are present.

Give John Ford a company of brawny men, let him train his cameras on the US cavalry and provide a script with plenty of action and he’s off on the road to glory. In The Horse Soldiers, which involves a little-known incident in the Civil War, all these elements are present.

This is the story [from the novel by Harold Sinclair] of Colonel Benjamin Grierson who, in April of 1863, was ordered by General Grant to take three cavalry regiments and ride 300 miles into the heart of the Confederacy to destroy the rail link between Newton Station and Vicksburg and thus choke off supplies from Southern-held Vicksburg.

But with all of Ford’s skill for staging battle scenes, and his superb eye for pictorial composition, the film is extremely uneven. The long shots of men on horses tend to become tedious and they considerably slow up the flow of the story. Also, the dramatic scenes involving John Wayne, William Holden and newcomer Constance Towers don’t come off with much conviction.

William Clothier’s photography is outstanding. Some of the scenes have the quality of paintings. As in all of the Ford films, the music has a fitting, masculine quality, being sung mostly by a male chorus.

The Horse Soldiers

Production

Mirisch. Dir John Ford; Producer John Lee Mahin, Martin Rackin; Screenplay John Lee Mahin, Martin Rackin; Camera William Clothier; Music David Buttolph

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1959. Running time: 120 MIN.

With

John Wayne William Holden Constance Towers Althea Gibson Hoot Gibson Anna Lee
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