Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke commands a U.S. cavalry troop north of the Rio Grande. Indians have been raiding and then fleeing south of the river into Mexico. Yorke is surprised when he learns that the son he has not seen for 15 years, Jeff, has flunked out of West Point. He’s barely digested the information when his son shows up at the camp as a new cavalry recruit. His personal life gets even more complicated when his wife, Jeff’s mother, Kathleen also shows up at the fort intent on taking her son home. As the situation increasingly deteriorates, the women and children are sent to safety but the wagon train is attacked and all the children take forcing Yorke and his men to cross into Mexico to get them back.
In this old classic John Wayne had not yet become the somewhat grumpy old tough guy as he is in many of his classical movies. He is somewhat younger and his character as Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke is a bit more emotional than the characters that he often played and there is a bit more romance in this movie as well. At least in my experience with John Wayne’s movies.
I was not sure if I was going to like this movie so much since it is generally put in the Romance genre as well as the Western genre. However I can without a doubt say that I did indeed like it quite a lot. It is still a good old-fashioned Western movie with brawls, fistfights and a lot of shooting. John Wayne is great in his role and a lot of the supporting characters are very enjoyable. I especially liked the old Sgt. Major and I would have liked there to be a more official scene of forgiveness between Mrs. Yorke and him. There were a lot of nice interaction between the Sgt. Major as well as between other characters in the movie. At times the movie was really funny due to these interactions between several of the rather original characters in the movie.
To my understanding John Ford was more or less forced by Republic Pictures into making this movie in exchange for his pet project, The Quiet Man, to be produced. I would say that this was a good move by the movie company even though the movie was produced as a low-budget movie even by the standards at the time.
The only thing I feel sorry about is that it was shot in black & white. As is often the case in good old Western movies there are a fair share of lovely nature scenery and I think some of that would have been much better in full color.
Oh by the way, one thing puzzles me. Why on earth did they make a movie poster with John Wayne without a mustache when he is having one throughout the whole movie?