The first film of John Ford's “cavalry trilogy” (1948), this marked the beginning of his greatest (and most critically obscure) period. Its dual heroes (Henry Fonda as a West Point martinet and John Wayne as a veteran horse soldier) express Ford's growing ambivalence toward the values and practice of leadership. The nonlinear narrative, with its infinite digressions and asides, is designed less to tell a story than to present a world—a world dense in physical detail and fraught with moral challenges. With Fort Apache
, Ford finally withdrew from the Oscar race and entered his own individual aesthetic, isolating himself in the glories and eccentricities of a great artist. With Ward Bond, George O'Brien, and Victor McLaglen.