“White women only spell trouble for any of us.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
The movie is told as a courtroom drama, in which we’re first led to believe Towers will portray a stereotypical White damsel-in-distress at the mercy of a “dangerous” Black man.
Soon, however, we learn that Strode has saved her life from an Apache raid, and Towers is actually a reasonable, non-bigoted female protagonist who is justifiably indignant about the claims made against Strode. The rest of the storyline — who did rape and kill “Miss Lucy”, and who shot wounded Strode? — is effectively handled, as we’re kept in suspense about various potential culprits for each crime until the very end.
Meanwhile, we’re shown non-stereotyped Black soldiers interacting and carrying out their duties in a way that should have been much better represented in cinema of the era, but — of course — wasn’t. (Watch for Juano Hernandez in a key supporting role.)
Ford’s film remains a critical step in the direction towards more authentic racial representation on screen, and is thus must-see viewing for its historical significance in cinema.
Note: Strode and Ford remained real-life friends until his death.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: