|COLUMN SOUTH (director: Frederick De Cordova; screenwriter: story by William Sackheim/ William Sackheim; cinematographer: Charles Boyle; editor: Milton Carruth; music: Joseph Gershenson; cast: Audie Murphy (Lt. Jed Sayre), Joan Evans (Marcy Whitlock), Robert Sterling (Capt. Lee Whitlock), Ray Collins (Brig, General Storey), Dennis Weaver (Menquito), Rico Alaniz (Trooper Chavez), Palmer Lee (Lt. Chalmers), James Best (Primrose), Russell Johnson (Corp. Biddle), Alan Dexter (Tom Kehler), Bob Steele (Sgt. McAfee ), Johnny Downs (Lt. Posick), Jack Kelly (Trooper Vaness), Jack Ingraham (Veterinarian), Richard Garland (Lt. Fry); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ted Richmond; Universal-International; 1953)|
by Dennis Schwartz
De Cordova ("Frankie and Johnny"/"I'll
Take Sweden"/"Peggy") flatly directs this politicized
pre-Civil War western, but gives it enough action to
pass muster. It's based on a story by William
Sackheim, who adapts it to the screen.
Mexico's Fort Union, in Jan. 1861, in Navajo
territory, the Civil War is imminent and loyalty among
the troops is divided. The new commander from
Mississippi, Captain Lee Whitlock (Robert Sterling),
is accompanied by his sister Marcy (Joan Evans). The
foolish glory seeking captain nearly starts a war with
the friendly Navajos when he believes they scalped a
prospector and stole his gold. But Lt. Sayre (Audie
Murphy) investigates and discovers the killer was a
bad white guy prospector (Alan Dexter).
her bigoted brother, Marcy hates all Indians. She gets
off to a bad start with Jed, who has a secret reason
for being an Indian lover.
arise when the Union's commanding general of the New
Mexican territory, stationed in Santa Fe, the
ambitious Brig, General Storey (Ray Collins),
turns out to be a traitor who schemes to make sure the
Rebs will win the west and by stealing gold might win
the war, as he plans to secretly move his Union troops
to Texas and trick the Navajos into attacking a
depleted Fort Union.
Audie foils the plot, wins the gal, talks some sense into her confused brother and thereby saves the day for the Union. Under a more dynamic director the film would have fared better. But the fresh-faced Audie does his hero thing here and that was good enough for me.
REVIEWED ON 1/28/2016 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ