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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Flags West (1950)

During the Civil War, President Lincoln issued a proclamation that Confederate prisoners of war could regain their freedom if they joined the Union army in defending the frontier in the West. A group of Southern soldiers headed by Joseph Cotten volunteer for such an assignment but when they reach their destination, they find an embittered Southern hater (Jeff Chandler) in charge of the fort and whose arrogance brings a hellish fury to descend on the fort. Tensions abound, not only between the Union and Confederate soldiers but also between Chandler and his widowed Spanish sister in law (Linda Darnell) who he keeps a virtual prisoner and who is eager to return to her Monterey home. Directed by that excellent craftsman Robert Wise (WEST SIDE STORY), this is a wonderful western. All four principals (Cornel Wilde comprises the quartet) have rich, strongly delineated characters that make it easy for us to invest in their fates. Wise whips up an exciting, tense and fateful siege by the Kiowa for the finale. The intelligent and layered screenplay is by Casey Robinson (NOW VOYAGER) and the majestic score by Hugo Friedhofer. With Dale Robertson, Jay C. Flippen and Arthur Hunnicutt. A must for all western fans.

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