Fort Apache

125 minutes

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.

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