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USA 1949
Directed by
John Ford
103 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

She Wore A Yellow Ribbon

Essentially a reboot of Fort Apache, which was released the previous year, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon manages to exaggerate the propagandistic elements of that film delivering a flag-waving, paternalistic adventure story about the US Cavalry's post-Custer subduing of the Indian Nations (aka "the hostiles") with a gee shucks sub-plot in the form of a romantic triangle between a pretty young woman (Joanna Dru) and her two uniformed beaux (John Agar and Harry Carey Jr)

With its sentimentalized portrayal of the military and its overwhelmingly Caucasian-centric viewpoint (although to its credit there is some attempt to give the Indian point-of-view some recognition) it needs to be understood within the context of post-WW2 patriotism and need for reassurance in the established order of things.

The landscape of Monument Valley is much bigger than the story here with Ford going out of his way to stage some striking panoramas which are magnificently photographed by Winton Hoch. Wayne is in top form as the bluff old soldier, Cap'n Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement and the script by Frank Nugent and Laurence Stallings from a series of short stories by James Warner Bellah (who also provided the original story for Fort Apache) does try to present the material with some depth, with Brittles a man who has seen enough bloodshed to want no more, and the good and bad being present on both sides of the coin. Overall, however, the jaunty subservience to the dominant order and stereotypical characterization (Victor McLaglen does provide some winning humour in this respect), not to mention Richard Hageman's relentless score with its oft-repeated title song, makes its immediate precursor look vastly superior aesthetically and ideologically.




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