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Horse Soldiers

John Wayne , William Holden , John Ford    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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This latter-day sort-of Western from John Ford--falling midway between The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance--is a crisp retelling of a true-life episode from the Civil War. In 1863 a Union colonel named Grierson (Marlowe in the film, and John Wayne by any name) led his cavalry several hundred miles behind Confederate lines to cut the railroad between Newton Station and soon-to-be-embattled Vicksburg. Grierson's Raid was as successful as it was daring, and remarkably bloodless. Never fear that the screenplay makes up for that un-Hollywood lapse--as well as supplying amatory distraction for the colonel in the form of a feisty Southern belle (Constance Towers) who has to be dragged along to protect secrecy.

There's a certain amount of bombast in the running arguments about wartime ethics between Marlowe and the new regimental surgeon (William Holden), who don't take to each other at all. But Ford more than makes up for it with such tasty scenes as an encounter with a couple of redneck Rebel deserters (Denver Pyle and Strother Martin), an ethereal swamp crossing led by a cornpone deacon (Hank Worden), and above all the famous skirmish with a hillside full of grade-school cadets from a venerable military academy. The film ends rather abruptly because Ford abandoned a climactic battle scene--the veteran stunt man and bit player Fred Kennedy having been killed in a horse fall. Golden-age cowboy star Hoot Gibson, who acted in Ford's directorial debut, Straight Shooting, appears as Sergeant Brown. --Richard T. Jameson


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great John Wayne Movie May 29 2004
Format:DVD
I love this movie. John Wayne's swagger, William Holden's class, and Constance Towers' charm. They all combine to make an excellent Civil War Movie based on an actually raid that pushed deep into the South.
The movie of course isn't accurate but that doesn't matter. The drama and action are great and there isn't any silly romance to ruin things. Constance Towers' presence helps in the development of John Wayne's character but doesn't slip into any thing that distracts from the main part of the movie.
There are also some great battle scenes. My favorite is the VMI cadet charge. This was also based on a real event that apparently wasn't as big of a deal as in the movie but is still interesting to read about if you get a chance.
I recommend this movie to all John Wayne and Civil War movie buffs.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A late John Ford classic May 24 2003
Format:DVD
The Horse Soldiers is a later John Ford cavalry movie in which he joined with John Wayne. Based on a true story, the movie is about a behind the lines mission for Union colonel Marlowe and his cavalry brigade. They are sent deep into enemy territory to destroy an important depot so that the siege of Vicksburg can end sooner. There are well-done action scenes throughout as well as some humor in a few scenes.

John Wayne stars as Colonel Marlowe and is his usual great self. William Holden stars as Major Kendall, a doctor sent along on the mission who cannot get along with the Duke. It is revealed in the movie why Marlowe hates doctors so much. Constance Towers stars as Miss Hannah Hunter, a Southern belle forced to accompany Wayne and his men. Ken Curtis and Hank Worden are excellent as two of Duke's scouts with Denver Pyle and Strother Martin hilarious in a scene as two Confederate hillbillies. The DVD offers a cleaned up version with trailers added on. An excellent and exciting Duke classic well worth the price!
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5.0 out of 5 stars John Ford At His Best Sept. 6 2002
Format:DVD
Director, John Ford, seemingly never made a bad movie and the list of his really good ones is long. "The Horse Soldiers" is one of his best. Ford portrayed the cavalry exceptionally well, capturing in near perfect detail the equipment, the formalities and drill, and all of the realities of this long defunct service. His "Cavalry Trilogy", set in the West during the Indian Wars will never, I suspect, be equalled. "The Horse Soldiers", based on a true Civil War event, is very close to the Trilogy in richness of story and characterization. It follows a raid by a large force of Union cavalry deep into the heart of the Confederacy. Wayne plays the role of Col. Marlowe, whose stern dedication to duty and the realities of operating behind enemy lines brings him into conflict with the regiment's idealistic surgeon, played by Willaim Holden. The only negative aspect of this film is the love interest, which was required in films of that time. Constance Towers is a "fifties girl" placed in the middle of a Civil War movie, and it is more than a minor distraction. Modern films like "We Were Soldiers" and "Black Hawk Down" don't have this element because girlfriends don't suddenly appear in the middle of a battle. Be that as it may, this is still a highly entertaining movie. If you like John Ford's work or would like to know why his films are still highly regarded, see this film. Similarly, if you are looking for a good story well told, you will not be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lost Opportunity May 6 2002
Format:DVD
I am a Civil War nut, and have seen this film several times, actually. For a Hollywood movie, this is about as authentic as it gets. Yes, the character representing Benjamin Grierson has both a name and civilian occupation difference, and there was neither a commander/doctor conflict nor a romance on the Grierson raid (at least that we know about), but John Ford went a long way to try to make this movie look somewhat accurate, at least. First of all, it was filmed in the approximate areas where the actual events took place. Secondly, it shows the Union commander (Col. Marlowe) splitting his forces and making some of them turn back north to try to deceive rebel forces - which also actually happened. Thirdly, the film uses many black extras who were "local citizens." My only real problems with this movie were its presenting the Grierson raid as having a bit more battle action than it actually did, and that the movie left the "romance" nuts (of which I am also one) wondering whether Col. Marlowe and Hannah Hunter ever did get back together after the war was over. In this sense, I have always wished that John Ford had seen fit to make a sequel, but then I also realize that when it came out, it barely broke even at the box office - so I understand why any director would be reluctant to do a sequel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ford and Wayne do it again April 14 2002
Format:DVD
To many who look at John Wayne as a one dimentional jingoistic actor this is likely the first film I would show them to change their mind. It is a fine war movie with some great battle scenes, yet it never fails to take away from the viewer the message that war is a terrible thing.
This film adaption of the Grierson's raid during the Vicksburg campaign gives us a close up look at the pain that war causes. Historical license it taken often Grierson the music maker becomes Marloe the engineer. Several battles are added to spice up the script, and the inclusion of the use of the Cadets harkens to a fameous battle a year later in Va.
It also give us pleanty of good subplotting in the roles, both in the ranks particlarly Sergeant Major Kirby who is loads of fun, and among the officers. It also contains some classic lines between Holden as a doctor who is regular army but a doctor first and Wayne a commander who doesn't like war, doesn't like doctors but does what needs to be done. "...the coffee tastes better when the latrines are dug downstream. How do you like your coffee Col?" as usual the actors who I refer to as the "John Wayne Guild" do their usual good supporting jobs.
In closing it is the interaction between Wayne, Towers and Holden, combined with the painting of war as something to be avoided that makes this movie a five stars classis vs just another John Wayne movie.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
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Published 3 months ago by fred bukowski
5.0 out of 5 stars John Wayne Horse Soldiers
We have watched this movie several times since purchasing it, it has always been a favourite of my husband. Everything we hoped it would be.
Published 9 months ago by watson's mom
4.0 out of 5 stars Horse Soldiers
The story was about rebels about unions soldiers. It did not make one look bad, and the other look good. The soldiers were in a war, and had a job to do, and did it. Read more
Published 11 months ago by George Dohn
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of his best
How can you go wrong with the Duke. I am a huge fan and want the movies on DVD prices were right and the selection was great the more the better is the way I look at it.
Published 12 months ago by Allen Patterson
4.0 out of 5 stars John Ford with John Wayne
A depiction, with typically Hollywood fanciful love interest, of the raid that U.S. Grant called "The bravest thing ever done". Read more
Published 13 months ago by Laurence Gaymer
4.0 out of 5 stars film to dvd conversion
Some of the scenes were not seen well due to the way the conversion came from the film version. It was as if the dvd image was centred on the old film image and only picked up the... Read more
Published 14 months ago by TL
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a keeper
If you're a fan of John Wayne this film is a must that should be in your collection. It is a historical action film in which Wayne leads his Union cavalry unit in a foray deep... Read more
Published 16 months ago by SAnders
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Ford-Wayne based on a Historical event.
This movie teams William Holden with JW and the friction between these characters holds the movie. I rate this as one of my top 10 JW movies. Read more
Published on May 28 2003 by JediMack
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Civil war film
This is a classic war film. It has been called a "western", but I think it is more of a war film. Most of the picture takes place in the deep south, not the west. Read more
Published on June 3 2002 by Undertaker
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