Fort Defiance 1951

I have a vague recollection of seeing this film a long long time ago and so am commenting on something I know little about really.

However the reason for the article is that I came across this poster for the movie and on looking a little further found that someone had written this piece which makes it sound very good.

1951  Fort Defiance

Fort Defiance pulls off what many more much higher-budget films don’t come close to doing  it gets nearly everything right:  not in any monumental way, but just enough in every department to make it a good, solid, satisfying film.

In this John Rawlins-directed picture, Ben Shelby (played by Ben Johnson) returns from the Civil War looking for revenge on the soldier who never delivered a message to his unit, causing everyone to be killed, except him. When he gets to the traitors home, he finds the mans old father and his blind brother (a very young Peter Graves) trying to run the ranch. Ben stays on as a ranch hand to wait for his enemys return. Along the way, he comes to really like the old man and the kid, and they really like him too.

The single best thing about this film is Johnsons tough, but ingratiating, performance in one of his few leading roles. John Ford discovered him, and he had the lead in one of Fords films (Wagon Master), as well as  Mighty Joe Young. But Johnson was best known as a durable, believable, Oscar-winning character actor. He had been a champion rodeo rider before going into movies, and it shows in this film as he does the best flying dismounts of any actor in Hollywood.

Fort Defiance also has a wonderfully  amusing performance by the underrated Dane Clark. He is a wise-cracking, two-gun killer, and he hasnt  got any problem with that. But if you do, you are in trouble.

Screenwriter Louis Lantz didnt have much of a career, and his best credit was writing the story for the Marilyn Monroe/Robert Mitchum film River of No Return. In this case, however, Lantz provided a well-constructed script thats loaded with good lines.

The pretty colour photography, shot on spectacular locations outside Gallup, New Mexico, was by Stanley Cortez. Cortez shot Orson Welle s classic, The Magnificent Ambersons, one of the most beautifully photographed movies of all time..



I did read somewhere that the TruColor they used was better in the outdoor sequences  than in the studio interior sets.

The above review means that I will now purchase the film and enjoy it I hope.

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Fort Defiance 1951”

  1. Dan says:

    There were two women in this movie, yet I can only find one in the credits. The other was the love interest of Peter Graves. Can anyone help?

    • Movieman says:

      That is a very good question Dan. Was she the woman who he greets at the very end as she gets off the Stagecoach ?

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