on September 26, 2013
A depiction, with typically Hollywood fanciful love interest, of the raid that U.S. Grant called "The bravest thing ever done". Good John Ford western - and as usual Ford does appear in a minor cameo role.
on May 29, 2004
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.
on August 19, 2013
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 a part of the actors who were on either side of the original widescreen...
on June 8, 2000
John Ford was granted license long ago to interpret historical events. After all, he granted it to himself and made no secret of it. Other reviewers are correct that this is Ford's, and John Wayne's, only full length Civil War film, the team's "Shiloh" contribution to _How the West Was Won_ notwithstanding.
I have one "if only," but it is a bigee: if only they had left out the insipid, incredible romantic subplot (which adds nothing to plot or picture), this would have been one of the great Civil War movies. I suppose that Ford thought if he didn't add this the ladies would stay away, to which I say, "So what?"
With that out of my system, there is still a lot to enjoy in this pic. The usual, Fordian conflicts among strong male characters (notably between Wayne and Holden) are there as are the comic moments ("Now lookee, here. The sun comes up in the east, don't it?" "Well it does in Missouri!" "Well if that's the east, we're ridin' south! Straight into Reb country!"). The plot is standard "dangerous mission" genre. There is lots of action, lots of shooting, and that last obstacle to get by.
Wayne's character is interesting. Far from a professional military man, he is a railroad engineer sent, reluctantly, to destroy railroads-- and he has his own reason to hate doctors. Holden is a military doctor with no fear of higher command (Wayne). These two strong personalities play well off one another.
Ford has also been unjustly criticized for setting up weak opponents. _The Horse Soldiers_ undercuts that. Nathan Bedford Forrest, an ever lurking presence, dogs the cavalry column which is attacked at least three times. One of these attacks draws from the Battle of New Market (yes, I know that is in Virginia, not Mississippi, where the film is set), and the charge of the VMI cadets in that battle.
Visually, the film is magnificent. Even his detractors concede that Ford knew how to do camera work, and he is at his best, here. Great opening song and rousing score.
I do come back to my original gripe, though. The Duke did not need a female lead in every film, and it was a mistake to include one, here. Try to ignore that, and enjoy the rest of the film.
on January 30, 2000
I am an unabashed fan of John Wayne movies from "Stagecoach" to "The Shootist." Among them all, "The Horse Soldiers" is my personal favorite.
John Ford captures, in vivid, robust color, the pageantry of the Union and Confederate cavalries. With flags flying, horses pounding, and bugles blaring, Ford and Wayne create sheer movie entertainment. The musical score by David Buttolph perfectly captures the varying moods of the film and complements the stirring visual images. From "I Left My Love" to the "Bonnie Blue Flag," the music accents the film's emotions. William Holden and Constance Towers are well-cast as Wayne's nemesis. The supporting cast is bolstered with many Wayne regulars, including Ken Curtus (Festus from "Gunsmoke").
Many criticize the factual inaccuracies in John Wayne films. So what! He didn't intend to make documentaries, he intended to make rousing, entertaining movies. I will always believe this was his best...
on January 17, 1999
This movie, loosely based on Benjamin Grierson's cavalry raid during the war Between the States, contains little in factual information on this raid, but can be viewed purely for entertainment. Those truly interested in cavalry raids, or the war Between the States in general, may be put off by the factual inaccuracies, but I recommend it as pure enjoyment for all. Considering the time period in which it was made, it is very well done. The cast is also great; John Wayne as the bull-headed Colonel dead set on going all the way, William Holden as the surgeon who manages to push Wayne's character to the limit, and Constance Towers as the beautiful Southern Belle forced by the circumstances of war to accompany the cavaliers on their raid. The blossoming relationship between John wayne and Constance Towers in this one only adds to the enjoyment. Though maybe not appealing to all, I feel everyone will enjoy this one.
on February 4, 1999
There's always something you know very well that you like to see again in every picture filmed by John Ford.Here we are again with the glory of fighting South shining in every frame .The young proud southerner lady.The wound ridden confederate officer at the railway station.The boys of the military school A bit of love out of mutual respect from the lady and the hardened yankee officer.The blacks faithful to their owners. And look at the horse soldiers, the scouts.Silhouettes on the fading light of the day. You know very well every glorious frame,you have already seen it a dozen times in a dozen or so Ford's pictures.But you never feel tired of them.You stay there and look.The film flows into your eyes,camera always pans slowly, to let you have the time to follow people,horses,background,clouds,and all that belongs to the art of this unique film director that was John Ford.
on July 11, 2001
The first time I saw this movie, I thought that it was a pretty good film. I was at my Grandma's house. Her husband who is a John Wayne nut, has the John Wayne scrapbook. I then found the movie in the book and read about it. I thought that it was pretty cool to see John Wayne and William Holden team up. What I find sort of ironic is that, the roll of Constance Towers' maid is played by athlete Althea Gibson, who must have really kicked ... at tennis at that time. Then again though, in 1959, if a black was in a film, they usually were butlers or maids. I am not black, but I get a kick out of that. Now I want to watch this film again to see wether or not the weapons used by the Troopers fit the period or don't, which what I usually end noticing in some of Duke's films.
on June 22, 1999
I have to dispute Leonard Maltin's claim that this movie would only be rated a "medium" by Ford buffs. As a fan of Wayne/Ford's Western trilogy ("Fort Apache," "Yellow Ribbon," and "Rio Grande"), my opinion is that "The Horse Soldiers" rates up there with them.
The movie may not be truthful to the actual events which inspired it, but is thoroughly entertaining. What separates this movie from some of Wayne's others is that Wayne's character is complemented by a strong adversary/ally, played by Holden. Not many actors can match the screen presence of Wayne, but Holden certainly does so.
on March 27, 2000
This, I believe Wayne's only full-length Civil War film, movie was based on the historical cavalry raid of B.H. Grierson from La Grange, Tennessee, to destroy Newton Station, Mississippi. Wayne's character Col. Marlow is caught in the paradox of performing his assigned military duty in a role that he detests personally. This was one of two film roles that Wayne handles masterfully, the leader-in-conflict. The other was in the Green Berets. Complimenting the performance of Wayne and Holden is a first-class musical score. I can't wait for this in DVD with digital sound!