on June 6, 2002
Joanne Dru teams with The DUKE again in this Technicolor marvel (after appearing together in "Red River" the year before). In this one, Dru plays a young romantic hopeful for both John Agar and Harry Carey, Jr.
Monument Valley never looked better. The stormclouds are stunning, even if the fake lightning is not. And the sunsets! Only Technicolor can capture the colors with such brilliance!
While I prefer "Rio Grande" and the lamentably-not-on-DVD-yet "Fort Apache", "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" plays more as a quiet homage to the cavalry than the actionfests of the other two films. Not that this film is sparse on action! However, the focus here is most definitely on the honor and wisdom of the old guard.
As usual, Ford has many subtle threads woven in to the plot of the film that enhance the story with backstories that are only hinted at. The most notable of these is the former Confederate soldiers, now part of the U.S. Cavalry. Their honor is intact, and they are still true to their ideals, despite wearing the uniform of the Yankee. There is, we know, much more to their story, but we see just what we need to. Any more, and the real story would get lost, the focus moved to the wrong place. How many modern directors make the mistake of letting this happen again and again and again? Too many, for sure.
Some people have complained that John Wanye was a lousy actor, which I've always chalked up to a refusal to recognize talent in a celebrity simply through differences in personal taste. Like "The Searchers", "Red River", "The Horse Soldiers" and "The Sands of Iwo Jima" (also starring the late John Agar), there are solid moments in this film when DUKE delivers. Just look as he "gives his report" to his wife and children, when he writes out his protest to his commanding officer, and again, when he gets the memento of the silver watch from his troopers. The viewer's taste notwithstanding, it cannot be denied that DUKE could act.
The usual excellent Ford supporting players abound. Ben Johnson, Arthur Shields, Harry Carey Jr., and of course, the lovable Victor McLaglen (yet again playing a man named Quincannon), are all on hand. Paul Fix has a cameo as a gun-runner.
Two real-life Indian chiefs also appear. Chief John Big Tree appeared in several westerns (including "The Big Trail" and "Stagecoach", both with The DUKE), and is famous for being the original model for artist James Fraser when he crafted the indian head nickel. Chief Sky Eagle cameos in his only film appearance.
A touching and poignant western, it is a must see for fans of Ford, The DUKE, The U.S. Calvalry, or the Old West.
And, incidentally, this film was not shot in a widescreen format. It was shot in a 35mm, spherical process, with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1. In other words, it will show about the correct size when displayed on your standard TV screen.
on February 4, 1999
This is a glorious and much neglected Western. Whilst 'The Searchers' receives the most acclaim helped by Martin Scorsese's public love, an obviously superior budget and the fascinating ambiguities of it's major character, I believe that 'Yellow Ribbon'is the definitive Ford Western. It is also Wayne's finest performance, as the retiring army Captain Brittles. There is a wonderful poignancy to his key scenes plus he is very funny when it's called for. I always feel a sense of ridiculous guilt in praising Wayne due to his personal right-wing gung-ho green-beret supra-patriotism. But you have to get past this to appreciate his very considerable acting talent. He had a much broader range than he is generally given credit for (by critics at least - the public always loved him). It is a shame that here he is saddled with such an appalling actress as Joanne Dru who just fails to convince with every gesture and utterance. Neither does Harry Carey Jr perform much better, bless him.
However, the movie generally scores for horse riding action scenes, fabulous cinematography, brilliant compositions, humour and good old fashioned brawling scenes with the stupendous Victor McGlagan.
on April 1, 2013
The two most important elements that make She Wore A Yellow Ribbon a great production are John Wayne and Monument Valley. John Ford, the producer, couldn't get enough of either and in the film they both take up a lot of movie reel space. If you like John Wayne, you will certainly be pleased with his acting in his leading role as a Cavalry Captain on the early west frontier. The same can be said for Monument Valley once you have been there, The classic panoramas of the magnificent vista's with their high desert grandeur, are like watching a travelogue of north-eastern Arizona. Joanne Dru and the other supporting actors are well cast in their
various parts in bringing to the screen this compelling story of hardship, dedication and love in the old west.
on March 9, 2004
This is the second and ,as many have said, best in John Ford's famed cavalry trilogy. I go further in claiming for it high status in the genre of western films, it is one of the finest. Wayne wears makeup that ages him 20 years and his acting performance transforms him into that older man Captain Nathan Brittles, soon to be retired from the U. S. Cavalry. Captain Brittles talking to his late wife at her grave ,while he waters the plants he has placed there, with Monument valley in the background is one of the more moving scenes. This and "The Searchers" are Wayne's finest acting performances.
"She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" won an academy award for it's color cinematography and it was well deserved. This is one beautiful film. Ford shot many of his westerns in Monument valley, this is his definitive Monument valley western, you really see alot of the landscape and clouds and it's glorious. The special features on this dvd has a short home movie of Ford and Wayne flying down to Mexico and hanging out back in the forties.
Own this one because it's one of those rare films you can, and will want to, watch over and over.
on November 11, 2003
Capt. Nathan Brittles (John Wayne) is near retirement and looks at it with an unsure and heavy heart. After years in the U.S. Cavalry it is all he knows and is not sure what will become of him when he leaves it. Brittles knows that the Army and life will go on, but what will his role in life be, since he lost his wife years before. This is the second and best film in the John Ford cavalry trilogy. As it Brittles is not very keen on handing over command to younger soldiers who are yet to prove themself in leading other men and in combat. For all it's worth he has little to no say about what will happen to those who take over and what will become of the indian tribe that he has worked with and delt with for so long. Victor McLaglen is a great supporter in the film as he also faces retirement and enjoys his whiskey and fights along with the other men. A story about trust and service along with changing times, it features one of Wayne's best performances. An Oscar winner for best color cinematography (Winton C. Hoch) that features Monument Valley, this is a film to see as it is a western and war film wraped into one. It is simple yet not boring and it get's to the point when needed. Grade: B+
For whatever reasons, Wayne's performances in westerns tend to be of a higher quality than in his other films and that is especially true of his work in this film, based on two of James Warner Bellah's short stories. Wayne portrays Captain Nathan Brittles who is about to retire. As the last day of his command approaches, Brittles must meanwhile cope with an Apache uprising which even his longtime friend Chief Pony That Walks (Chief John Big Tree) cannot prevent. One sub plot involves two young lieutenants who compete for Olivia Dandridge (Joanne Dru). One is Flint Cohill played by John Agar who appeared previously in Fort Apache as Lieutenant Michael O'Rourke. Other members of the John Ford Repertory Players include Victor McLaglen, Mildred Natwick, Arthur Shields, Harry Carey, Jr., and Ben Jonson who is especially effective as Sergeant Tyree.
Frankly, I dislike westerns shot in color. Also, John Ford apparently had problems when directing actresses. (Maureen O'Hara's performance in The Quiet Man is a stunning exception.) More often than not, Ford's female characters are presented as saints, children, or furniture. I would have much preferred that this film had been shot in black-and-white, that the Olivia Dandridge character be omitted, and that the film focus entirely on the completion of Brittles' last command. Wayne is absolutely brilliant when Brittles is presented with a gold watch from his troops and struggles withy his eyeglasses so that he can read the inscription, "Lest We Forget." His conversation with Chief Pony That Walks in the Apache camp is also memorable. Wayne has better material to work with in this film than he had in Fort Apache (1948). In my opinion, his performance is flawless. Nevertheless, I rate this film a notch or two below Fort Apache and Rio Grande in which Ford is much less self-indulgent.
on April 28, 2003
"She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" is one of those glorious westerns, luminously photographed by director, John Ford. It stars, John Wayne, as a widower living at a military outpost with the cavalry and features some of the most gorgeously photographed exteriors ever captured on film. Monument Valley becomes a place of quiet, stoic beauty and the duke never gave a more impressive performance than he does here.
My hat off to the good people at Warner Home Video. This is a truly amazing looking DVD and one that should definitely be on every film buffs wish list to own. Colors are fully saturated, well balanced and incredibly life like. Contrast levels are on pitch as are black levels. There is a hint of edge enhancement and pixelization but really - it's just a hint. Chips, scratches and imperfections inherant in the original camera negative are kept to a bare, bare minimum. The audio is mono, as originally presented, but extremely well balanced, with low to non-existant background hiss in most scenes. No extras: a shame! One craves a documentary on either the making-of this movie or John Ford himself. We get neither. Still, it's hard to fault such a near pristine looking transfer.
BOTTOM LINE: Get this one before it goes out of print!
on September 4, 2002
John Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy" presents some of the finest western scenes ever made. I believe this to be the best of the three, although I'm sure to hear from folks who differ. Be that as it may, this is a beautifully made disc. On the big screen ( a must), it is the scenery that is a major factor, because the film is so vivid. I saw the "Trilogy" in the theatre when released, and I believe that the DVD viewer will see the film better realized on the digital screen than moviegoers saw in 1959. Another opinion that many will differ with is that this is John Wayne's best performance; his role as Captain Nathan Briddles could not be better done. John Ford had a cadre of actors that appeared regularly in his films, but Victor McLaglin, Ben Johnson and Arthur Shields do good work in their respective parts. Johnson, a former rodeo rider, is a superb horseman, and watch Shields' stagecraft when his character operates on a wounded trooper. It's fantastic attention to the details of the scene. Joanne Dru was a fifties actress, and the love interest is a bit dated, but it is the cinematography that is the winner here. Some of the scenes, one involving a thunderstorm, and another showing a stunning sunset are still amazing, especially since no computer graphics are involved. The attention to detail that makes or breaks historical film are consistantly well done here, as exemplified in the correctness of the cavalry scenes. Back in 1959, there were people around who knew what horse soldiering was, and it is painstakingly recreated here. Please don't pass this one up - it's a wonderful film.
on June 13, 2002
While many of John Ford's movies are classics, I think that "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" does often get downplayed, but it really is an excellent movie. The colors are lush, and quite crisp on this DVD (more so than in the VHS of this film) and the cinematography is gorgeous. But the acting is also top-knotch. John Wayne does wonderful as a ramrod-straight but aging cavalry officer. Though Wayne was probably at a physical peak at the time the film was made, he moves like an older man with aches and pains, and carries it off nicely. His interactions with the other actors are also good, and reflect well the tight-knit nature of the post-Civil War military. There's humor, there's drama, and in the end, the film is just very enjoyable. The extra features on the DVD are okay; the "John Ford Home Movies" only show Ford and Wayne enjoying drinks somewhere in Mexico, and everything else is just text, but the clarity of the film and the gorgeous colors on the DVD make this a must-have.
on June 5, 2002
John Wayne may have received reviews for acting in other movies such as The Searchers, Red River, True Grit and others, but this is the one where he brings all the others together in an image that can not be equalled. The old cavalry captain at the end of a long career, a Civil War veteran trying to get a job done in a lonely part of the world, a widower still in love with his wife, a gentleman of the old school, and more, this is John Wayne in a truly great role. In addition to him, this movie has some of the best directing, photography, and music of any western film. Maybe The Searchers is arguably the best western ever made, and I would not argue that, but She Wore A Yellow Ribbon is the one that makes you want to stand up and cheer (just like Joanne Dru said). Captain Nathan Brittles takes care of his soldiers, mentors the young officers (a phrase overused and little heeded in today's Army), and finally accomplishes his mission, but not without some great drama and disappointment along the way. If nothing else, people should watch this movie for the photography and camera work. Watch the bugler as he rides along in silence beside his Captain; watch how he sits his horse. And watch Ben Johnson in an early role. There is one picture of him on his sorrel horse against the sky that should have been a painting. I do enjoy this movie, as anyone can tell. I do so because it has all the right elements: danger, romance, drama, a surprise and exciting ending, along with the music and photography. Yeah, and don't forge the acting either, not Wayne's nor Victor Mclaughlin's, Ben Johnson's, Mildred Natwick's, Tom Tyler's, Barry Fitzgerald's, and all the other great actors of that time.