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Author Topic: Fort Massacre (1958)  (Read 129 times)
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« on: March 12, 2017, 10:28:18 AM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051629/reference

 C Troop and their pocket watch leader.

Joel McCrea stars as tough US Cavalry Sergeant Vinson, who has to take command of C Troop when the senior officers are killed during an Apache attack. But what drives Vinson on? And is he the right man to lead the remaining members of the Troop? Directed by Joseph Newman, the films photography comes from Carl Guthrie, screenplay is courtesy of Martin Goldsmith, it's filmed in CinemaScope with De Luxe colour and the co- star list contains Forrest Tucker, John Russell, George N. Neise & Susan Cabot.

A moody and tough psychological Western that showcases the truly good side of the "B" Western splinter. Thematically strong with its anti- racist core, and really tightly written by Goldsmith, it's also notable for containing a wonderful performance from McCrea. Tho his Western output was very hit and miss {the brilliant Peckinpah film Ride The High Country was to come 4 years later} McCrea was always value for money in even the tardiest of Oaters. Here he gets to really grizzle for all his worth, his Vinson is a bitter man, blinded by hate, yet still capable of softening up if engaged in the right conversation. McCrea is first rate in the role, never over doing the hard-nosed side of the character and garnering believable sympathy when his guard is down.

More known for being the director of This Island Earth, Joseph Newman is hardly the name one links to the direction of a psychological Western. Yet he does a surprisingly good job with the action sequences and rightly lets his actors just tell the story. There's a small complaint that the final battle is all too brief, but that's a touch offset by a hillside C Troop/Apache battle that takes place in the first third of the film. Briskly constructed and with no saggy male posturing to weigh it down, the battle shows Newman to be quite adept at crafting a good old fashioned fight to the death between two very old fashioned foes. The film also looks terrific. Tho sadly not having a widespread DVD release and therefore not getting a remastered work over, the current print of the film available to television networks and Region 1 DVD is still a treat in this High Definition age. Where once the print was apparently murky, you now should be able to adjust and reap the benefit of what is on offer. Filmed at three locations, Gallup-New Mexico, Red Rock State Park-New Mexico & Kanab-Utah, Carl Guthrie's photography really utilises these locations, one moment it be a beautiful sprawling landscape, the next the rocks are enveloping the characters to portray the tension and confinement of their emotional and physical journey. All given the De Luxe sheen as the browns, reds and uniform blues come vividly to life.

Fort Massacre is little known and certainly under seen, thus its reputation has been founded by the casual Western viewer entering into it unaware of what type of character driven film it is. It's hoped that it can now find a newer and more appreciative audience because it's one of the better B Westerns of the late 1950s. 8/10

Viewed via UK cable.

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