Jean W. from JORDANVILLE, NY Reviewed on 7/6/2019...
have always loved this movie
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
There is a proper way to retire horses in the U.S. calvary
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 01/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1930 General Douglas MacArthur was appointed chief of staff of the U.S. Army and attempted to modernize the Army. In June 1932 he used not only tanks and troops of cavalry with drawn sabers, but also infantry with fixed bayonets to attack the Bonus Army in Washington, D.C., claiming the outrageous idea of American troops attacking former members of the Army who had served in the First World War was justified because the nation was on the verge of a communist revolution.
While that infamous moment in American military history is the prologue for "In Pursuit of Honor," Dennis Lynton Clark's script tells what happened in 1935 when MacArthur changed the cavalry from men on horseback to men in tanks and ordered the destruction of hundreds of horses. The decision does not sit well with old Sergeant John Libbey (Don Johnson) and his other NCO's, but it is young Lt. Marshall Buxton (Craig Sheffer) who decides after watching the infantry gun down a hundred horses that they are not going to let the same thing be done to any more of the creatures. For these men it is a question of honor and they think when their service is no longer required horses should be treated the same way as former soldiers. Of course, the film's prologue amply proves that MacArthur (James Sikking) is willing to gun down old soldiers along with old horses.
Libbey is certainly an old soldier at home in the saddle and Buxton is young, a West Point graduate, but they have in common a tendency to be insubordinate when it comes to matters of honor. Libbey refused to ride down the women and children of the Bonus Army just because ordered to do so by Colonel John Hardesty (Bob Gunton), who is the officer MacArthur sends west to do the changeover. Buxton knows nothing about Hardesty's past, but he knows that what the Army is doing to this horses is wrong and in a split-second he makes a decision to save the rest of the horses.
Since the army base on the American-Mexican border is south of them, the soldiers take the horses north and Hardesty sets off in pursuit with his mechanized force. Unfortunately director Ken Olin made "In Pursuit of Honor" for television, which means the budget for depicting an epic chase between horses and machines was never there. There is an entire dimension to this story with regards to the disadvantages of trying to find roads to travel on in the U.S. in 1935 in pursuit of a bunch of horses.
The best parts of this television movie are out in the middle of no where with the five soldiers and their hundreds of horses. Johnson's performance is the cornerstone of the film, caught up in the attempt to save the horses without really pausing to consider the implications of what it means for any of them. However, the whole ideal of the big confrontation that is building throughout the film ends up becoming something of an anticlimax by the time it is finally played out, although why is not exactly clear. While the horses are heading north we have a subplot involving Colonel Owen Stuart (Rod Steiger), the retired former leader of the cavalry, who goes to the nation's capital to try and convince MacArthur of the mistake he is making, and his daughter, Jessica (Gabrielle Anwar), a young reporter.
The suggestion is that something bigger than the military is going to save the day, but that does not really prove to be the case. If anything, the lesson of this 1995 movie is that the honor of the U.S. Army is where it has always been, in the hearts of its non-commissioned officers. The officers can give all the commands they want, but the sense of what is right and wrong in the military comes in the looks of not only Sgt. Libbey's companions, Sgt. Thomas Mulcahey (John Dennis Johnston), Sgt. James Shattuck (Robert Coleby), and Sgt. Sean Quinlain (Neil Melville), put a pair of non-coms who are involved in the pursuit, Sgt. Ernest Gruber (Peter Curtin) and Sgt. Nathaniel Rutherford (Brian McDermott).
In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent MacArthur to organize the defense of the Philippines, a fact that is not related at the end of "In Pursuit of Honor." Actually, there is not any sort of scroll of information at the end to let us know what happened to the participants in this true story. But the idea that FDR would boot MacArthur to the other side of the globe for thinking shooting several hundred horses is a good idea is certainly a decision you would want to applaud (although Herbert Hoover having done it three years earlier would be even better)."
Hollywood, Not History
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 06/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an very entertaining action yarn -- and that is just what it is, pure fiction. The previous reviewer who blasted the film as fiction is apparently correct. Although the US Cavalry Association and the MacArthur Foundation thoroughly researched this alleged incident, they were unable to find anything remotely like it that actually occurred in history. The Cavalry Association contacted the film's writer and was told that it was based on a story the writer had heard from "3 old sergeants" (quoted from an e-mail received by this reviewer from the Cavalry Association.) Both organizations wrote to HBO requesting that the film's billing, "Based on a true story" be removed from the film. But since Hollywood often doesn't much care for the truth with its products, they were ignored.So, moviegoer, enjoy a good action tale, but until or unless HBO decides to divulge the actual source(s)of this allged "true story", don't believe a line or scene of it as regards the slaughter and rescue of the horses it portrays.As for the film itself, it is very entertaining and all members of the cast do a nice job with it. I am giving it a 4 star rating for its entertainment value alone; a NO STAR rating for its apparently false claim of being "based on a true story." Good cast, nice locations, and a depiction of the "brown shoe" army that existed between the World Wars not often depicted on the screen make it enjoyable to watch."
An enjoyable movie with *some* basis on historical events
Odiseph | 02/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Those viewers with prior service, especially during wartime, will enjoy "In Pursuit of Honor" all the more.Perhaps the biggest surprise was how admirably well Don Johnson carried off the roll of a battle hardened old boot. The director and writer "hollywoodized" some events and created a film which brought tears to this old sergeant's eyes. The depiction of General MacArthur is appropo; but the body of the movie is the plight of a small contingency of men against tall odds and direct orders.Would this country ever destroy cavalry horses? We left behind "legions" of finely trained military dogs (K-9's) in Vietnam where a staple is canine flesh. The two main excuses I was told in the field were: budget cuts and the fear of spreading heartworms. There were innumerable instances which defied commonsense and ethics during the Vietnam War, errr, Conflict.Reality check time. The era depicted in this film is a time of the United States history which has been clouded by agenda and spin. There were marches in the streets, payrolls were cut, veteran benefits were cut, pensions were cut, veterans were clubbed, millions were suffering for lack of food and housing (tons of federally stored milk, butter, and cheese were destroyed instead of being distributed to the needy), as told to me by my Grandfather who served as cavalry blacksmith during and after World War I. He later crosstrained into cooks. Either way, he said, there was no getting away from horses....:p"
Mark Williams | Key Biscayne,Fl. | 06/26/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I too was intrigued by this "historical" film, so I did a little research also. I received this statement from the US Calvary Association:"Unfortunately, this movie is yet another example of "Hollywood history." As far as we have been able to determine, nothing even remotely like this ever took place. The flaws in this movie, from a historical standpoint, are almost too numerous to list. The 12th Cavalry was not one of the regiments that was initially mechanized. And when the regiments were dismounted, their horses were turned in to the Remount Service, a branch of the Quartermaster Corps, where they were re-issued to other units. These remount depots were large operations, capable of handling up to 6,000 horses. They were not locations where you would send cast-off sergeants or troublesome lieutenants. As we understand it from an interview with the writer of the screenplay, the entire story is based on a tale he was told by three old sergeants when he was a boy, and even he admitted that the machine-gunning of the horses was a bit of Hollywood color added to the story. We have done research into the regiments, mechanization, even the officers mentioned and given "biographies" at the end of the movie. Nothing has been unearthed to confirm that any of the events shown in the film ever took place. In fact, all available evidence points in just the opposite direction. Both the U.S. Cavalry Association and the MacArthur Foundation wrote to HBO when this movie first came out, requesting that in light of the facts they remove the "based on a true story" statement from the movie. They never even answered our letters. So, while "In Pursuit of Honor" might be a good motion picture, it is certainly not good history. It is truly a shame that it is still being presented as such.William Van Horn Researcher, USCMRL"
Not just bad, but a lie!!!
Alexander Bielakowski | Leavenworth, KS | 07/27/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Let me preface my comments by saying that I am a cavalry historian and have published a book on the U.S. Cavalry (check Amazon if you don't believe me). This movie is absolutely and completely wrong!
1) Cavalry horses were never disposed of by machine-gunning them - either they were humanely put down or sold.
2) No one ever stole cavalry horses to prevent them from being shot and then took them to Canada.
3) The U.S. Cavalry Association, an organization composed of cavalry veterans, attempted to sue the filmmakers for slander over this film. They couldn't though, because their organization had not itself been slandered.
4) There are numerous other smaller historical inaccuracies that I don't have the energy to mention, but other reviewers already have.