Charles J. Rector | Woodstock, IL United States | 06/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Only the Valiant is an early example of what might be called the "impossible mission" movie subgenre. Flicks of this type have plots in which a certain number of men, ususally hard cases, are picked for a do or die mission in which there is a high degree of failure. Other notable films of this sort are The Guns of Navarone, The Dirty Dozen and Where Eagles Dare.
Gregory Peck stars as Captain Richard Lance who is a commander of United States Cavalry stationed in the Wild West. Captain Lance needs to send an Apache Chief Tuscos (Michael Ansara), who harbors violent hatred of Americans, to a prison at another fort. Captain Lance sends Lieutenant William Holloway (Gig Young) to escort the chief.
However, Indians attack the escort freeing the chief and killing Lieutenant Holloway. The chief then goes on to lead an Indian uprising against the Americans. Captain Lance is held responsible for the debacle by both his men and his girlfriend, Cathy Eversham (Barbara Payton). This is especially serious since Holloway was widely beloved.
With the uprising, the fort that Captain Lance's troops are stationed at is vulnerable to attack. If the fort falls before reinforcements can arrive, then the territory and its settlers will be wide open to Indian attack. Captain Lance decides that the best course of action is to take a personally selected task force to a nearby fort that occupies a mountain pass that is a superior strategic position that was abandoned some time earlier. If that fort can hold out long enough for reinforcements to arrive, then the territory will be spared from Indian incursions.
For this mission, Captain Lance decides that the only soldiers whose lives should be risked are the hard cases. These are the dregs of the army whose devotion to the cause is rather suspect. They include cowards, criminals, deserters and just plain malcontents. Among others, they are Corporal Timothy Gilchrist (Ward Bond), Trooper Kebussyan (Lon Chaney, Jr.) and Sergeant Ben Murdock (Neville Brand). The selected troopers, in turn, suspect that this is precisely why they have been chosen and they resent Captain Lance all the more for it.
Needless to say, Captain Lance's work is cut out for him. He must meld men who have severe character flaws together into a cohesive unit. He must work in a confine of responsibility and honor that is every bit as narrow and have the potential for being dangerously conflicting as the pass that the bloodthirsty Apaches have to move through to attack the fort.
Only the Valiant is a flick that could easily have been just another Western but in the hands of veteran director Gordon Douglas, it is a masterpiece of suspense. Douglas was one director who really understood just how to build suspense. This movie is atmospheric and intense and tells a story worth telling. It is filmed in stark black and white that only adds to the suspense. Douglas aimed to make a character driven Western and in that he succeeded admirably."
Above average western
Robert Haro | Califronia | 08/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Very good western with strong cast. Gregory Peck does an excellent job as a captain in the cavalry wrongly blamed for the death of a popular officer at the hands of the Apaches. Film has much in the way of drama and suspense."
The Art of Leadership
Chuck | 06/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A great story on the type of man who can lead, and the many types of men who cannot. A previous reviewer mentioned Robert Ryan as one of the actors in this film. Actually, he's not in it."
Hold Down the Fort
R. Webb | u.s.a. | 09/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A classic made in the making,they just don't do'em' like this anymore. Gregory Peck,one of the true all time great actors is surrounded with a legendary all star cast,Lon Chaney,Ward Bond,Neville Brand, are just a few that make this film a winner. Peck is a Cavalry Captain who is strictly by the book leading a band of misfits to protect an empty fort from hostile Indians,as the tension builds each man's past is revealed and sets the stage for the final climax. One helluva Cavalry picture,although filmed in black and white,1951,Only the Valiant,a must see."
"Gregory Peck Series ... Only the Valiant (1951) ... Warner
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 09/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Warner Bros. presents "ONLY THE VALIANT" (13 April 1951) (105 mins/B&W) (Dolby digitally remastered) -- Our story line and plot, "Only the Valiant" was based on a novel by Charles Marquis Warren --- As our would be hero Capt. Richard Lance (Gregory Peck) is unjustly held responsible, by his intended Cathy Eversham (Barbara Payton) and his men --- As the previous orders were changed by the Colonel to substitute Lt. Holloway (Gig Young) for Captain Lance --- Holloway is also smitten for the affections of Cathy --- Being the other suitor Lt. Holloway. Holloway is killed while escorting a dangerous Indian chief Tucsos (Michael Ansara) to another fort's prison, and the chief escapes --- Lance knows their fort is in danger of Indian attack, so he volunteers taking a small group of army misfits to an abandoned nearby army fort to defend a mountain pass against the oncoming Indian assault --- Stall for time is their mission until reinforcements from another fort arrive --- The men in this small group of malcontents, deserters, psychopaths and cowards all hate Capt. Lance and wish him dead --- Many of the men recognize that Lance's survival instincts, military knowledge and leadership are the only chance the group has of staying alive --- Among the film's misfits are Ward Bond (who almost steals the film), Lon Chaney Jr., Neville Brand, Warner Anderson and Steve Brodie giving outstanding performances in every scene --- But it's hard drinking Ward Bond who is the scene stealer in this classic oater.
Under the production staff of: Gordon M. Douglas - Director William Cagney - Producer Harry Brown - Screenwriter Edmund H. North - Screenwriter Charles Marquis Warren - Book Author Lionel Lindon - Cinematographer Franz Waxman - Composer (Music Score) Walter A. Hannemann - Editor Robert S. Seiter - Editor Wiard Ihnen - Production Designer Armor E. Marlowe - Set Designer
SPECIAL FEATURES: BIOS: 1. Gregory Peck: Date of Birth 5 April 1916 - La Jolla, California Date of Death: 12 June 2003 - Los Angeles, California
the cast includes: Gregory Peck ... Capt. Richard Lance Barbara Payton ... Cathy Eversham Ward Bond ... Cpl. Timothy Gilchrist Gig Young ... Lt. William Holloway Lon Chaney Jr. ... Trooper Kebussyan Neville Brand ... Sgt. Ben Murdock Jeff Corey ... Joe Harmony Warner Anderson ... Trooper Rutledge Steve Brodie ... Trooper Onstot Dan Riss ... Lt. Jerry Winters Terry Kilburn ... Trooper Saxton Herbert Heyes ... Col. Drumm Art Baker ... Capt. Jennings Hugh Sanders ... Capt. Eversham Michael Ansara ... Tucsos Nana Bryant ... Mrs. Drumm David Clarke ... Guardhouse Sentry John Doucette ... Sergeant John Halloran ... Wall Sentry Clark Howat ... Lt. Underwood Harlan Howe ... Junior Sergeant Claire James ... Jenny William Newell ... Corporal of the Guard William 'Bill' Phillips ... Sgt. Medical Assistant
Hats off and thanks to Les Adams (collector/guideslines for character identification), Chuck Anderson (Webmaster: The Old Corral/B-Westerns.Com), Boyd Magers (Western Clippings), Bobby J. Copeland (author of "Trail Talk"), Rhonda Lemons (Empire Publishing Inc) and Bob Nareau (author of "The Real Bob Steele") as they have rekindled my interest once again for B-Westerns and Serials --- If you're into the memories of B-Westerns with high drama, this is the one you've been anxiously waiting for --- please stand up and take a bow Western Classics --- all my heroes have been cowboys!
Total Time: 105 mins on DVD ~ Warner Home Video ~ (7/01/2008)"