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Horse Soldiers [VHS]
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Product Description

This latter-day sort-of Western from John Ford--falling midway between The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance--is a crisp retelling of a true-life episode from the Civil War. In 1863 a Union colonel named Grierson (Marlowe in the film, and John Wayne by any name) led his cavalry several hundred miles behind Confederate lines to cut the railroad between Newton Station and soon-to-be-embattled Vicksburg. Grierson's Raid was as successful as it was daring, and remarkably bloodless. Never fear that the screenplay makes up for that un-Hollywood lapse--as well as supplying amatory distraction for the colonel in the form of a feisty Southern belle (Constance Towers) who has to be dragged along to protect secrecy.

There's a certain amount of bombast in the running arguments about wartime ethics between Marlowe and the new regimental surgeon (William Holden), who don't take to each other at all. But Ford more than makes up for it with such tasty scenes as an encounter with a couple of redneck Rebel deserters (Denver Pyle and Strother Martin), an ethereal swamp crossing led by a cornpone deacon (Hank Worden), and above all the famous skirmish with a hillside full of grade-school cadets from a venerable military academy. The film ends rather abruptly because Ford abandoned a climactic battle scene--the veteran stunt man and bit player Fred Kennedy having been killed in a horse fall. Golden-age cowboy star Hoot Gibson, who acted in Ford's directorial debut, Straight Shooting, appears as Sergeant Brown. --Richard T. Jameson

John Wayne teams with William Holden and eminent western director John Ford for this frontier actioner "packed with laughter, romance and thrills" (The Hollywood Reporter)! Written by John LeeMahin and Martin Rackin, this faithful representation of one of the most daring cavalry exploits inhistory is both a moving tribute to the men who fought and died in that bloody war and a powerful, action-packed drama.Based on an actual Civil War incident, The Horse Soldiers tells the rousing tale of a troop of Union soldiers who force their way deep into Southern territory to destroy a rebel stronghold at Newton Station. In command is hardbitten Colonel Marlowe (Wayne), a man who is strikingly contrasted by the company's gentle surgeon (Holden) and the beautiful but crafty Southern belle (Constance Towers) who's forced to accompany the Union raiders on perhaps the most harrowing mission in the war.

Customer Reviews:

  • Horse Feathers!
    Ok, so in was back in (?)....40 years have passed since I first saw this little opus, back then I WAS IN the Union Army, of course the next week I was Confederate, always camped near the "company hearth"...(tv set to you newbes). I even had a navy colt side arm and blanket bed roll, with the standard issue peanut butter n' crackers...hardcore huh? Anyway I first saw "Horse Soldiers" broadcast on "Saturday Night at the Movies", or was it at the drive-in? Duh...at that time I thought it was fantastic, outstanding, and keen! I especially liked the "southern trash" portrayal by Denver Pile and Strother Martin as comic relief. Now what do I think? Well I still think this is an interesting movie and I still like the little comic bit with Pyle and Martin. But this was not one of the "Dukes" best films by far. Bill Holden, as a "progressive" doctor who fights n competes "Duke" for the had of a "forgotten starlet" beauty as-love-interest is wasted. Lots o' rough n' ready action. But for the most part the whole effort is predictable and a little boring. The true story was amazing and worthy to be told...ah but then there would be no bloodly battle scenes! So it's an ok movie to fall asleep to...heah compared to "The Ring" or "Kill Bill"...I'd have to give it 20 stars! Ah youth, lost the plastic colt n' ma bed roll but still got a store o' peanut butter and hard tack!...more info
  • A good tale of the Civil War with horses, battles, and colorful supporting characters
    This movie by John Ford paired John Wayne (Col. John Marlowe) and William Holden (Maj Hank Kendall, regimental surgeon) as the male leads in the film while Constance Towers provided the female lead and love interest as the Southern Belle Hannah Hunter. The movie was expensive for its time and everyone involved expected it to be a blockbuster. Both Wayne and Holden received $775,000 and a promise of 20% of the profits. However, the film did not do all that well and there were no profits to distribute. Some say that the era of lead star megadeals began with this movie.

    This movie is loosely based on Grierson's Raid in April and May 1863 as part of the Vicksburg Campaign in Mississippi. Wayne's Marlowe is a former railroad builder without much formal education, but he is smart and brave. Marlowe is leading a regiment of cavalry through Mississippi to reach Vicksburg and join Grant's campaign. We know it is dangerous because most of his officers are looking for excuses to turn back and head North to safety. During the film we learn he is a widower and how losing his wife caused him to dislike doctors. Holden's Kendall is a doctor who cares for people and is only part of the war because he was put there. Wherever he sees someone who needs his help, he offers it and this gets him on Marlowe's bad side.

    Along the way, they stop at a plantation and requisition horses, supplies, and refresh themselves. They meet the mistress of the plantation, Hannah Hunter and when they leave they take her so she cannot warn the Confederates of their presence of plans. Her joining the regiment of hundreds of horse soldiers provides a tense love story with Marlowe with some competition with the more sophisticated Kendall. The final resolution of the love story is one of the less satisfying aspects of the story, but in war who gets to wrap up personal stories in a neat package anyway?

    The movie has some spectacular vistas, lots of great work with the horses (it is cavalry, after all) a couple of fine battle sequences, the Duke fighting on the side of the Union for once, and lots of colorful supporting characters. While I don't think it is a great Wayne movie like "The Searchers" or "The Shootist", it is still a good one. Enjoy!

    Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI

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  • Purely For Entertainment
    This movie, loosely based on Benjamin Grierson's cavalry raid during the war Between the States, contains little in factual information on this raid, but can be viewed purely for entertainment. Those truly interested in cavalry raids, or the war Between the States in general, may be put off by the factual inaccuracies, but I recommend it as pure enjoyment for all. Considering the time period in which it was made, it is very well done. The cast is also great; John Wayne as the bull-headed Colonel dead set on going all the way, William Holden as the surgeon who manages to push Wayne's character to the limit, and Constance Towers as the beautiful Southern Belle forced by the circumstances of war to accompany the cavaliers on their raid. The blossoming relationship between John wayne and Constance Towers in this one only adds to the enjoyment. Though maybe not appealing to all, I feel everyone will enjoy this one....more info
  • William Holden and John Ford, in their first pairing...
    As the Civil War goes against the North, General Grant (Stan Jones) is unable to take the Confederate fortress of Vicksburg because the Confederates have it so well defended... He realizes necessity of cutting off that city's supply sources..

    Col. John Marlowe (John Wayne) is assigned to take a small brigade of cavalry from Tennessee, ride hundreds of miles into the Confederate territory and destroy the railroad at Newton Station, Mississippi, thereby cutting the supply line to Vicksburg... To do it, he will have to avoid all contact with rebel forces until he has reached his target...

    The first problem Marlowe encounters is Major Hank Kendall (William Holden), an obstinate surgeon who will be accompanying the force... Marlowe has the expected contempt of the combat soldier for his colleague who carries no arms... In addition, when Kendall asserts his rights as an officer in the medical corps to declare unfit any soldier he considers so, Marlowe and Kendall clash...

    The next problem is Marlowe's second in command, Col. Secord (Willis Bouchey), who makes no secret of his plans to use his military career to further his strong political ambitions...

    The third problem is the high-spirited belle Hannah Hunter (Constance Towers). This violent Southern patriot gives him an initial hard time... The Yankee soldiers stay at her plantation soon after they cross into the Confederacy... When Hannah learns their plans, Marlow is forced then to take her along with them for security reasons...

    Holden and Wayne (violently opposing strong personalities) perform their assignment with a consummate force, intensity, and expert teamwork... Constance Towers, too, registers a vital presence... At their first dinner, she passes Wayne a platter of chicken... As she leans over, threatening to divulge her engaging d¨¦colletage, she says: 'Oh come now, Colonel, a man with a great big frame like yours can't just nibble away like a little titmouse. Now what was your preference, the leg or the breast?'

    Incorrigibly sentimental and romantic in his big cavalry epic, Ford's motion picture is full of heroic cavalry on the skyline imagery... Among the more affecting scenes is that in which a harsh compassionate Wayne comforts a dying young soldier and the one in which he registers his love for Towers... There is also a compelling sequence, pure John Ford, in which a group of teenage cadets march out from a Southern military academy to take on the enemy, which makes manifest to battle boys and pulls a retreat, leaving the kids cheering...

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  • wayne and ford in fine form and william holden along for the ride
    i love john wayne and i love this movie. william holden costars but make no mistake this is john waynes movie all the way. as an officer sent behind rebel lines to attack a rail line wayne does his always great job and the action is crisp and the story is just right. join wayne and holden and "the horse soldiers"
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  • I Left My Home,I Left My Love,For The U.S. Cavalry
    Based on a true incident during the Civil War,Horse Soldiers,a spectacular cavalry film from the great John Ford,starring John Wayne and William Holden who make up pretty good rivals locking horns throughout the movie,the Duke also locking horns with sexy actress Constance Towers,as a slow gradual love is brewing.Plenty of action and battle scenes,true to realistic,Horse Soldiers is a helluva cavalry picture.Look for Ken Curtis(Festus on Gunsmoke)Curtis also played parts in a few other John Wayne movies.This MGM dvd is 16x9 widescreen and remastered with good sound and picture,a must for your John Wayne,John Ford cavalry collection....more info
  • the horse soldiers
    i donot enjoy this movie as much as the other john wayne western...more info
  • Not What I Had Hoped For
    Over the years I believe I've seen all the significant films of John Wayne and John Ford, except "The Horse Soldiers." Tonight I finally viewed it on the DVD release and have to admit it was a let-down. Oh, I enjoyed it but it did not live-up to the reputation of these many years. Much of the problem with placing this films highly among others with Wayne/Ford is in the screenplay which struck me as too scattered and without real focus. The Duke did his usual thing well but I believe John Ford was not at his best in this particular effort. A few classic western scenes are included but it lacks the style of so many other Ford movies that are recognized by his fans. Worth seeing but not twice....more info
  • John Wayne and William Holden saddle up for this fact-based All-Action Horse Ride!
    THE HORSE SOLDIERS (1959) directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne this is their penultimate Western together, sandwiched neatly between the vastly superior THE SEARCHERS (1956) and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962). Nevertheless this is a fine film, which returns once again to Ford's beloved US Cavalry that was depicted so wonderfully in the so-called Cavalry Trilogy some ten or so years earlier.

    This American Civil War story is based on a true successful incident in 1863 known as Grierson's Raid. General Ulysses S. Grant sent a brigade of Union Cavalry under Colonel Benjamin Grierson though enemy-held territory from southern Tennessee through Mississippi to Louisiana to the union-held city of Baton Rouge. The purpose was to destroy enemy rail infrastructure so creating a diversion from the Union's main attack on Vicksburg. Ford has taken some poetic licence with the story but is pretty even-handed in his story telling of a period in American history that set North against South and brother against brother, that resulted in the loss of over 620,000 men.

    Ford's version is taken from a novel "The Horse Soldiers" by Harold Sinclair and has a former railroad builder Colonel John Marlowe (John Wayne) leading his mini-brigade through enemy territory to attack the Confederate held Newton Station, along the way at Greenbriar he picks up "southern belle" Hannah Hunter (Constance Towers) who has overheard details of the forthcoming raid also frustrating his efforts is his new Regimental Surgeon Major Henry Kendall (William Holden). Other contentions are his second in command Colonel Philip Secord (Willis Bouchey) is more interested in securing an election victory than a military one. The rest of the cast is made up of many of Ford's regulars including Ken Curtis, Hank Worden and former cowboy star Hoot Gibson.

    This may not be John Ford at his very best, but the film does contain some excellent sequences in the directors' best manner including: The horse soldiers on the skyline, The aftermath at Newton Station, The young cadets advancing on the Union troops, The charge over the bridge at the end and last but not least the scene where Towers is serving supper to Wayne and his men at Greenbriers, she asked an embarrassed Wayne "What is your preference leg or breast?" during which time Ford gives us a daring (for the 1950's) view of Miss Towers cleavage!

    The filming on location in Louisiana came to an unsatisfactory conclusion when one of Ford's regular stuntman Fred Kennedy was killed whilst falling from his horse during the final battle scenes at the bridge. Ford was very upset and lost interest in the film, so they packed up and went home. Later additional footage was shot back in The San Fernando Valley, California to complete the film!

    Transfer to DVD is just about okay; included are the original theatrical release trailer with interactive menu screens and chapter selections. All Ford / Wayne Westerns are worthy of treatment to the highest standard available in Restoration and Presentation. Still pretty good value for money though!
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  • History of the Civil War
    I purchased this DVD because of my interest in the history of the Civil War in the U.S.A., especially the facts concerning General Grant's capture of the fort at Vicksburg, Mississippi. General Grant was the person responsible for intiating the attact on Newton Station to destroy supplies the South had, the railroad tracks that would be used to reinforce the fort at Vicksburg and as a distraction to the Southern armies during Grants attack on the fort at Vicksburg. I believe this movie portrayed these facts quite well, while adding a description of the terrible experiences caused by this war....more info
  • The Horse Soldiers
    This is a Hollywood version of real events that took place during the Vicksburg Campaign in 1863. While there is a lot of Hollywood flair, the events of the raid and the impact on the fall of Vicksburg are well documented. All in all it is quite enjoyable and great for a rainy afternoon....more info
  • The Horse Soldiers 1959
    John Wayne (1907-1979) teams with William Holden (1918-1981) and eminent western director John Ford (1894-1973) for this frontier action : packed with laughter , romance and thrills . Writed by John Lee Mahin (1902-1984)and Martin Rackin (1918-1976) , this faithful representation of one of the most daring cavalry exploits in history is both a moving tribute to the men who fought and die in that bloody war , and a poweful , action-packed drama . Based on an actual Civil War incident , THE HORSE SOLDIER tells the rousting tale of a troop of Union soldiers who force their way deep Southern Territory to destroy a rebel stronghold a Newton Station . In command is hardbiten Colonel Marlowe (Wayne) , a man who is strikingly contrasted by the company's gentle surgeon (Holden) and the beautiful but crafty Southern belle (Constance Towers 1933 - ) who's forced to accompany the Union raiders on perhaps the most harrowing mission in the war . High Quality Transfer . Recommended...more info
  • Great old-fashioned actioner
    John Wayne on horseback. The Civil War. A daring raid. William Holden as a whiskey-swilling surgeon. What else do you need?

    This story, based very loosely on a historical incident, follows The Duke as he leads his cavalry unit on a long raid through Confederate territory, causing as much mayhem as possible. And with John Wayne in the saddle, that's a lot.

    I first saw this movie in the theater, when I was a kid. I loved its action and grand sweep. Many (too many) years later, watching it again on DVD I still enjoyed its action and sweep.

    Some things you just never outgrow. ...more info