Opening credits prologue: (on a book cover) "THE APACHE WARS IN ARIZONA TERRITORY For years following the Civil War, the question was whether Indians or the United States Army would control Arizona Territory. Bands of hostile Apaches roamed the countryside. Only the courage and dedication of a few brave fighting men kept the Territory from being completely overrun."
An interesting movie, made near the beginning of the Vietnam war, has World War hero Audie Murphy starring in this cavalry movie. The movie has the look and feel of a 1950's Western and does little to distinguish itself.
The movie is set in 1868 Arizona and Captain Bruce Coburn (Audie Murphy) leads a group of undisciplined troops. One a galvanized Yankee, Corporal Bodine, does as much as he can to cause dissension.
The fort is in danger of being over run by the Chiricahua, led by Cochise, who have joined up with the Tonto Apaches to drive the white men out. The Indians are left mostly in the background in this movie. The troop needs 40 modern repeating rifles to hold them off.
Captain Coburn and his men pick up the guns, but Bodine leads the men in a mutiny, and take the guns. He plans to head to sell them to the Apaches, and then head to Mexico. Captain Coburn is busted when he gets back to the fort, but soon heads out to find the guns, going against order.
We then meet Cochise who say to Bodine: "Soldier, you are a very brave man or a fool." He then goes on to say: "The hunter was captured by the game he was seeking." "The army insults me, sending an underling to parlay." "The white eyes do not let their soldiers ride alone to the Chiricahuas." "Man who turns on his friends can not be trusted by his enemies." This dialogue gives you a good idea of the quality of the movie.
Cochise does like the rifles, and tells Bodine he will buy them from him. Coburn catches up to the traitors, and one of his former men, whose cowardice had helped cost his brother his life, helps him out. Coburn and the coward take the guns and head back to the fort.
There was a really annoying narrator who popped up every ten minutes or so to explain what was going on in this really simple movie. He almost turned the movie in to a comedy. Nothing was really good in this movie. The plot, the acting and the treatment of the Indians were all pretty weak. The only thing I found interesting was the idea that perhaps the creators thought the movie would be popular because they had a war hero starring in a movie, at a time when the US was involved in the Vietnam war. Five years later Robert Aldrich would direct a great movie, Ulzana's Raid (1972) which would be everything this movie was not.
I forgot to mention that Audie shoots it out with the traitor in the last scene. I don't have to tell you who won do I? Audie and the coward, who redeems himself, are the heroes. The movie ends with Audie's girlfriend rushing in to his arms at the camera pulls back to show the American flag hanging over the scene.