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The Horse Soldiers [Blu-ray]
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on November 14, 2017
THE HORSE SOLDIERS. THIS STORY IS BASED ON GRIERSONS RAID FROM LAGRANGE
TENNESSEE TO LOUISIANA. FACT IS, GRIERSON WAS WITHIN 5 MILES OF WHERE I
AM WRITING THIS. SO I WOULD SAY THERE IS A LOT OF HISTORICALLY BASED STORY
MATERIAL HERE SO I HAVE WATCHED THIS MOVIE FROM A PERSPECTIVE THAT LOOKS
AT THIS FILM AS ENTERTAINING AND MAKES ONE THINK HOW EVERYONE FELT.
I EVEN GOT TO SEE GOOD OLE HOOT GIBSON AS HE COULD STILL RIDE A HORSE
WELL 50 YEARS AFTER HIS FIRST FILM. WILLIAM HOLDEN I HEARD WAS NEIGHBORS
WITH JOHN WAYNE AND THEY BOTH HAD A CHEMISTRY OF TWO STRONG MEN WHO
COULD DISH OUT SOME SCREEN PERSONA THAT WAS ENTERTAINING. GOOD STUFF.
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on December 19, 2016
Watched this movie for the first time in several decades the other night. The cinematography is Old School, the colors garish, and the script a bit clunky but really--John Wayne playing off his teasing foil William Holden, and a flirtatious woman making his job more difficult and also more interesting--Classic, engaging, and just plain fun. Much like The Quiet Man, this is cinema entertainment that rarely exists any more. The dialog seems spontaneous and is often funny, the characters keep your interest and the background of the Civil War in Mississippi is just an excuse for the unfolding story. John Wayne plays himself of course. It may be that some of the scenes are not Politically Correct by today's standards; some would reject this film on that basis alone. But much of this film is tongue in cheek and even campy, so if one can look at it from the point of view of when it was made, and the less PC mores of its era, there is much to enjoy.
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on July 17, 2016
Probably my favorite John Wayne (henceforth JW) movie, with the plus of having William Holden (WH) co-starring as the war-weary Army surgeon who travels with the troops on this campaign. The friction between JW and WH is one of the lynchpins of this movie's plot. This movie shows more of the not often seen JW dark side, perhaps even more angles to his character than his famous role in "The Searchers". The character roles in this film were littered with almost every popular character actor in the Western genre who wasn't already working on another movie that year. The female lead played by Constance Tower is the epitome of the antebellum war-orphaned daughter, (a blonde Scarlett O'Hara type) of a now-impoverished but formerly grand cotton plantation in Mississippi. She ends up in possession of info regarding the campaign which JW's division of cavalry was charged to complete (by Generals US Grant and Phil Sheridan) to help shorten the stalemate in the siege of Vicksburg. I bought this film for my library. What more can I say on this topic?
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on February 23, 2013
This John Ford-directed Civil War flick is actually based on a real cavalry raid led by Col Benjamin Grierson and is adapted from a novel of the same name by Harold Sinclair. John Wayne plays the Grierson character, named Col. John Marlowe in the movie, and while he has the lead, he shares billing w/co-star William Holden, who plays the regimental surgeon. Wayne and Holden in this film are an oil-and-water combination, with one being antagonistic to the other for most of its duration. The purpose of Grierson's Raid, and the raid portrayed in this film, was to capture the town of Newton's Station (the primary supply depot for Vicksburg, MS) and to disrupt railroad transportation between the town and Vicksburg. This raid was critical to the Union victory at Vicksburg which put all of the Mississippi in federal hands and cut the Confederacy in half. As portrayed in the film, the raid was remarkably successful and bloodless. In addition to Wayne and Holden, both of whom perform exceptionally well, look for a fine performance from Constance Towers, who becomes a captive of the hated Yankees...but mellows in her opinion, both of the Yankees and Col Marlowe toward the end. Also look for excellent performances from Ken Curtis and several other of Ford's stock players, such as Hank Worden, Hoot Gibson, Judson Pratt. Althea Gibson, the tennis player who broke the color barrier in womens' professional tennis also has a featured role. In summary, this is a fine fictionalized portrayal of Grierson's Raid...excellent entertainment and a pretty fair history lesson. Highly recommended.
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on June 13, 2014
John Ford and John Wayne made some great films together the best being The Searchers. As they aged, their energy dropped, and this film shows some slowness. Ford's diligence about history always came second to Hollywood needs so even if the Grierson raid actually happened, the narrative's shape deforms the actuality of the events. Also, one of the faults of late 1950's - Early 1960's Hollywood is that the actors are twenty years too old. But Ford has his own team, and his loyalty earns him my admiration. However, the techniques and performance styles that held since the beginning of sound now creak and groan like old boards. The film's turgid flow reflects some of these defect. Hammy melodrama fueled Ford, and The Horse Soldiers runs true to course. An old-fashioned ambience results. Despite all this, I like his film, and even own in Blue Ray. Even mediocre Ford delights me more than the best of other directors. Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong.
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on July 20, 2015
No need to review the story of this well-known classic -I'll limit my comments to the BD presentation.

First off, I had trouble booting this BD in two of my BD players. Both produced a black screen after I hit the play button. I did a thorough cleaning of the disc with a lens wipe, and that did something because the BD then played flawlessly. So, I saved myself a return/exchange that I didn't need to make.

The movie comes up well in its BD guise, with sound and visual acceptable if not a huge improvement from the DVD version. As this film gets aired on TV somewhere at least once a month, you may not feel the need to own this on BD.

Recommended if you're a Wayne fan or a collector.
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on September 3, 2011
Based on the true story of a Union commando raid deep into the heart of the Confederacy during the Civil War, this is often considered to be one of director John Ford's lesser works. I might disagree with that. The moral complexities, the great issues of the age and how the individual relates to them---these classic Ford themes are on full display in this one. But more than anything, what suffuses this film is the importance and grandness of honor. Ford doesn't give us jingoistic patriotism, or any of the "glory of war" stuff---what he gives us are individuals who have strong senses of personal honor and responsibility. Wayne's character is not a professional soldier, but rather a builder of railroads, who finds himself a wartime officer. Of course, he's a determined man of action, but Ford subtly shows us that that without the destructive madness of the war, Wayne would rather be building railroads than destroying them by sabotage, as he does during this mission. Wayne's character also somewhat represents the "old ways"---he's not exactly racist, but he's not too comfortable with racial equality, and based on a tragedy in his own life, he does not have much faith in modern medical advances and practices. This sets him up perfectly as a foil to William Holden's character, the surgeon. Holden clearly represents modernity, with his reaching out to black families in need (and making a few cutting remarks about slavery to Mrs. Hunter), and his optimism about and embrace of modern medicine. They earn a kind of gruding respect for each other throughout the course of the film, because both of them respect the other one as an honorable man, who will stand up for his beliefs---whether that means fighting each other, or sacrificing themselves for the mission and to uphold their duty as soldiers, and for Holden, his duty as a man of medicine. Similarly, Mrs. Hunter, the southern belle that they bring along as a prisoner, is loyal to her side in the conflict, and does everything she can, within the restraints of maintaining her own honor, to hamper the Union soldiers--even though she also develops respect for her captors. One humorous battle scene has Wayne's grizzled cavalrymen beating a hasty retreat from an advancing column of brightly attired military cadet schoolboys---a nod of respect to the boys' military tradition and bravery, and an acknowledgement that engaging them in battle would be dishonorable to true military men. The real contempt in this film is reserved for a couple of Southern deserters and traitors---even though they're potential allies for the Union troops, Wayne shows nothing but disgust towards them, and instead is respectful towards the elderly southern sherrif who was trying to arrest them. One thing I found very funny in this film was the Union officer who was a budding politician---he constantly advised the safest, easiest route, which would cause them the least trouble, but would accomplish nothing except making their resumes look good! I think it's safe to say that was largely Ford's opinion of politicians! I think one of the major reasons that this movie isn't considered in the top tier of Ford movies is just that with the eastern setting of this film, we don't really get the cinematic drama and grandness of the Monument Valley landscape and other western settings as in films like The Searchers. But that aside, I think this film really delivers a lot of the depth and skill of Ford's best works.

The Blu Ray is not reference quality, but it's mostly sharp and watchable---definitely a huge step up from the very poor non-anamorphic standard DVD release of this film.
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on December 31, 2012
I have been a John Wayne and William Holden fan for over 50 years and I've seen all of the Duke's films that are available many many times over. This is one of the most underrated but enjoyable films I have watched. Duke and Holden seem to feed off of each other and present believable and excellent performances. In fact the entire cast of character actors give superior perfomances in this film directed by the master John Ford. The only complaint is the blue-ray version is grainier than the orgininal dvd. Having said that this film is a must for all Wayne/Holden, westerns, and civil war fans. The color, the action and the story line based on an actual civil war incident are outstanding. This is one of the best. You will cry and you will laugh. This film has it all. You won't be disappointed. Enjoy!
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on December 15, 2013
I'm a John Wayne fan so i'm a little biased here. The film looks good on Blu-ray. The story itself is fine ,its set during the American civil war, about a group of Union soldiers(led by Wayne) sent to the South to get rid of a stronghold at Newton Station. A long the way the characters of Wayne and William Holden come to blows and the band of soldiers encounter a few hazards on their journey such as meeting Constance Towers' character(whom the Duke falls in love with as the story progresses). Directed by John Ford, the film has its moments of his deft touch. Not generally compared to his other films, The Horse Soldiers is still a good film, it looks good, has some fine acting by the three main stars, a great supporting cast of Ford/Wayne regulars and its based somewhat on an actual civil war incident. You also learn from the story that just because you're fighting against a people, that doesn't mean you can't do right by them.
Worth watching.
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on March 11, 2018
Not even half as good as the out-of-print book by Harold Sinclair on which it's based, but considering the paucity of US Civil War movies it's still a fun watch of the John Wayne version of the famous Benjamin Grierson's cavalry raid into Mississippi in 1863 which helped enable Grant to land his army below Vicksburg while attention was focused elsewhere.
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