The Horse Soldiers (1959)

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  • Just finished watching this one for the umpteenth time on the Encore Westerns channel. I really don't understand the negative or so-so reviews the film received. True, this isn't Fort Apache or The Searchers but it's a damn good movie. The characters are easy to get involved with and the pacing is fine. The Mississippi and Louisiana locations are great background for the story and I'm glad Ford decided to go on location for this one. The only grating thing to me was Constance Towers southern belle accent early on. Way overdone but perhaps that was intentional as she was trying to dupe and betray Col. Marlowe. Later on, after her duplicity is discovered and revealed by Maj. Kendall, she seems to thankfully lose much of the overdone southern belle accent once she gets caught up in Marlowe's mission. I have no quarrel with the ending, either. It's perfect, when you think about it. A grand entrance into Baton Rouge would have been anti-climactic, if you ask me. The ending, as filmed, leaves it up to the viewer to imagine what happened after. Too many movies nowadays seek to overwhelm the senses when a subtle nudge is all that's required. It's like when Rhett scoops up Scarlett and carries her up the stairs into the dark. I don't need to see what happened next. That's what my imagination is for.

    Leonard Maltin, on another site, states that Holden and John Ford "fought incessantly". If they did, they certainly didn't let it spill over into the finished product. Holden's performance is top-notch, as is Wayne's and all the major characters. It's easy to see why Ford had his "stock company" of favored actors to work with. All the familiar faces did good in this one. Bing Russell's Dunker is an under-appreciated performance.

    One question for someone who knows; when was the movie actually filmed? From the scenery and sunlight I'm guessing fall of 1958 but that may be way off.

    It's hard for me to see at what point in the story Ford loses interest due to Fred Kennedy's tragic death. There is no point where the movie bogs down or begins to drag. There is no noticeable point where there is a change in tone and if the ending was, indeed, cut short it worked to the movie's advantage.

    Maybe the expectations of a movie pairing Wayne and Holden were too high. I don't know but the movie should have made money upon it's release. I don't understand why the reaction and receipts were mediocre, but that's just me. All in all, it's a fine film with a good story and it is still a wonderful movie to watch on a cold, rainy afternoon.

  • I agree with you, ohbyron. I have always enjoyed The Horse Soldiers. Constance's accent never really bothered me, I tended to like the heaviness of it.


    "I couldn't go to sleep at night if the director didn't call 'cut'. "

  • It is one of my favorite movies (even if it is not Fort Apache or The Seachers, I agree, ohbaron). Constance Towers never bothered me, the only thing is - her heavy makeup, but it seems it was customary in a movies of this period. And Duke of course was great in this movie.

  • One question for someone who knows; when was the movie actually filmed? From the scenery and sunlight I'm guessing fall of 1958 but that may be way off.

    One of my all time favourites.

    According to a couple of books I have checked,
    shooting commenced in late October 1958

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • This film falls under that category I like to call atmospheric installments. I LOVE the costumes, the casting, and the settings. It's eye candy that is fun to watch and just immerse myself in. Fun story, light-hearted moments, and a sense that the cast is having a ball sounds like a good way to spend my afternoon or evening,

  • Watched this in bed last night and ended up staying up until it was over. I think it's a great character study of Col. Marlowe. You see how his opinion about people and even professions evolve throughout the film, but what is never lost is his commitment to fulfill the mission. I think that is my takeaway from the ending. It's not just about the destination, but the journey getting there that defines us. John Wayne's character was not so narrow minded that he could not reflect and in some cases alter how he viewed certain things in his life. But he also understood why he was there and didn't let those other issues make him question what he was doing. I think it;s a very smart movie.