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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949)

An aging U.S. Cavalry Captain (John Wayne) is just days away from his retirement. But when word of the defeat of Custer at the battle of Little Big Horn reaches the fort, he is given a final assignment. To deal with a group of Indians who have left their reservations and are grouping together to attack the Fort. Visually, this is one of director John Ford's most beautiful films although he and his cinematographer Winston Hoch clashed several times during the filming. Hoch's compositions and images of Ford's beloved Monument Valley are simply breathtaking in three strip Technicolor and Hoch justifiably won an Oscar for his efforts. The story is simplicity itself (possibly too simple) and the film plays better as a mood piece observing the weight of duty. Although about 20 years too young for his role, this is one of Wayne's best performances, bringing a quiet dignity and strength to his character. The film is severely compromised by several factors however. Richard Hageman's trite score aside, I can't decide who gives the film's worst performance: Victor McLaglen or John Agar. McLaglen overdoes the Irish whimsy bit and when he enters a saloon as an Irish jig plays on the soundtrack, I groaned, "Oh no, not a barroom brawl!" and sure enough, it happens. Agar is astonishingly bad! With Joanne Dru, Mildred Natwick, Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr. 

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