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Films of Sergio Leone => Other Films => Topic started by: Groggy on March 24, 2013, 06:04:31 PM

Title: Two Flags West (1950)
Post by: Groggy on March 24, 2013, 06:04:31 PM
Forgive me if there's already a thread.

1950 was a seminal year for Westerns. The genre turned towards darker fare: The Gunfighter and Winchester '73 deconstructed the gunslinger myth, while Broken Arrow and Devil's Doorway extoll favor of Indian rights. John Ford's brilliant Wagon Master showed traditional Westerns could still provide a kick. Lost in the shuffle was Robert Wise's Two Flags West (1950), a serviceable Civil War Western.

In 1864, Confederate POWs led by Colonel Tucker (Joseph Cotten) agree to join the Union Cavalry fighting Indians. These "Galvanized Yankees" arrive at Ft. Thorn, New Mexico, where Tucker immediately butts heads with untrusting Major Kenniston (Jeff Chandler). The friendlier Captain (Cornel Wilde) pines for Elena (Linda Darnell), Kenniston's widowed sister-in-law. Tucker and his men consider escape, goaded by Rebel agent Ephraim Strong's (Harry Von Zell) plans to stir up rebellion in California. Tucker makes his choice when hostile Apaches attack Ft. Thorn.

Story writer Frank S. Nugent explored North-South reconciliation in Ford's She Wore a Yellow Ribbon but makes it Two Flags West's major theme. Mutual loss generates tension among characters: Tucker led the Rebels who killed Elena's husband at Chancellorsville, while both Tucker and Kenniston served in POW camps. Tucker has no interest in reconciliation, having lost his farm to Sherman's March. Ultimately Wise falls back on the old expedient of Americans uniting against a common enemy, forging a national identity slaying Apaches.

Two Flags West might interest film-goers for its influence on future Westerns. John Sturges's Escape From Fort Bravo (1953) borrowed the setting and north-south tensions for a routine action flick. Sam Peckinpah grafted whole scenes onto Major Dundee (1965): Dundee's recruiting speech, Tucker's obsessive loyalty, a Dixie-Battle Hymn of the Republic singing duel originate here. Henry Sibley's New Mexico Campaign, mentioned in passing here, became the focus of Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).

Robert Wise provides efficient direction, with expressive photography and a thrilling end battle. The movie's crisply paced yet seems to cram in a few too many plot strands. We're intrigued by Harry Von Zell's Rebel agitator yet his subplot comes to nothing. The Apache are goaded to violence by Kenniston's stubbornness (shades of Fort Apache) but soon revert to pop-out savages. At least Wise provides an unconventional resolution to the climax. Western fans will enjoy Two Flags' straightforward action but its ambitions seem frustrated.

Joseph Cotten is fine as the conflicted Colonel Tucker. Jeff Chandler gives the standout turn, a cruel martinet who reveals nobility under fire. Cornel Wilde is likeable in a secondary role and Arthur Hunnicut steals his scenes as Tucker's right-hand man. Linda Darnell makes an appealing love interest; if nothing else, it's nice seeing her play a non-stereotyped Latina.

Two Flags West is an enjoyable Sunday afternoon film. A masterpiece it isn't, but those seeking an undemanding oater should enjoy. 7/10 (
Title: Re: Two Flags West (1950)
Post by: cigar joe on March 25, 2013, 02:44:05 AM
Forgive me if there's already a thread. (

There wasn't any started surprisingly so now it starts the AW index entry for it. I barely remember seeing this.
Title: Re: Two Flags West (1950)
Post by: Groggy on April 03, 2013, 11:32:02 AM
Two Flags is on Youtube if anyone urgently needs to see it: (

If not, Fox Movie Channel runs it periodically. I don't think there's a video release.