SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1950) C 103m dir: John Ford
w/John Wayne, Joanne Dru, Ben Johnson, John Agar, Harry Carey Jr., Victor McLaglen, Mildred Natwick, George O'Brien, Arthur Shields, Francis Ford
Most elegiac of all westerns, beautiful and subtle in detailing an aging officer's reluctance to quit when the Indians threaten. Like its retiring cavalry officer, the film ages well. This is one of Ford's most powerful films.
From The Movie Guide: "The second film in John Ford's 'Cavalry Trilogy' [along with FORT APACHE and RIO GRANDE] features John Wayne at his best and boasts some incredible Oscar-winning Technicolor photography of Monument Valley. ... Wayne gives one of the finest performances of his career here, in the first serious role Ford gave him. (Wayne himself later said that Ford never respected him as an actor until he made RED RIVER [for director Howard Hawks].) As Capt. Brittles --- the character a full generation older than the actor --- Wayne is at his most human, a man who has made the Army his whole life, even sacrificing the lives of his family to its service, and now having to watch his Army career end on a note of failure. The passing of time is the film's recurring theme, suggested as Brittles arrives late with his troops, is forced to retire because of his age, leaves a dance to speak to his late wife; even the inscription on the watch the troopers give him, 'Lest we forget,' plays on this theme of time lost and recalled. Ford's main inspiration for the film's scenic look was the western paintings of Frederic Remington. On the set, the director clashed with cinematographer Winton Hoch, a technical perfectionist who would endlessly fiddle with his camera while the cast baked in the sun. One day in the desert, when a line of threatening clouds darkened the horizon, indicating a thunderstorm, Hoch started to pack up his equipment. Ford ordered him to continue shooting, and Hoch did so, but filed an official protest with his union. The shot that emerged, of a fantastic yellow sky with jagged streaks of lightning reaching toward earth in the distance, was breathtaking and helped Hoch win an Oscar for his work on the film. After decades of terribly washed-out color prints of SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, the film has recently been restored to its original glory and may soon be available on home video in pristine condition."
Winton Hock won an Oscar for Best Cinematography.