The Horse Soldiers – 1959 – English
War film directed in 1959 by John Ford, and starring John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers…
Synopsis: A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the commander. The secret plan for the mission is overheard by a southern belle who must be taken along to assure her silence. The Union officers each have different reasons for wanting to be on the mission.
Review: The Horse Soldiers is one of many John Ford and John Wayne collaborations.
Moreover, it is one of their better. The story involves a daring mission by union troops into the heart of the confederacy, in order to cut supply lines. Wayne is leading the daring plan. However, also going on the mission are an insolent surgeon (played by William Holden) and a Southern Belle, complete with slave (played by tennis star Althea Gibson). Where this film shines are in the excellent performances turned in by the big two stars. Rumor was that this film had many shutdowns and stoppages, the kind of thing that can make someone hornery.
Well, you see that in the relationship between the Holden and Wayne characters, they genuinely despise each other. To me, this was one of Wayne’s most underrated performances. He shows real emotion in his rather complex character. As usual, Holden is excellent. Being a Ford film, the story and scenery are both epic. Moreover, it does not take the Hollywood path towards the obvious. I really enjoyed this film and was anxious to see just how it would end.