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Western films, from silent to today

Ambush (1950)

Ambush (1950) poster Robert Taylor is Ward Kinsman, a grizzled Army scout who thinks he’s scouted his last mission. Then he’s summoned to an Army post by Maj. Breverly. Seems the daughter of a cavalry general has been kidnapped by Diablito’s Apache warriors. The major has orders to get her back and put Diablito back on the reservation.

Kinsman isn’t keen on the idea and turns down the assignment. He thinks the price for capturing Diablito is going to be steep, perhaps too steep for the rescue of one woman, who was kidnapped partly because she and her husband disobeyed orders about traveling through Indian territory without an Army escort.

But he’s lobbied quite prettily by Ann Duverall (Arlene Dahl), the sister of the captive. And Kinsman changes his mind for a couple of other reasons. On a patrol to another fort, he learned the kidnapped woman is alive and definitely with Diablito’s tribe. And when he returns, he finds the post commander has been severely wounded by a drunken trooper and that the patrol to bring in Diablito will be led by a junior officer (John Hodiak as Capt. Lorrison) that he doesn’t trust nearly as much. Ann Duverall might be the third reason, though she’s already being courted by Lorrison.

Rating 4 out of 6Review:

Decent cavalry vs. Indian film with the highlight being the battle scenes that come near the end.

And there are plenty of subplots to keep things from getting dull. In addition to Kinsman and Lorrison disagreeing over tactics and fighting over Ann Duverall, there’s a second love triangle brewing.

A loutish and drunken trooper named Tom Conovan is abusive to his wife Martha (Jean Hagen). Lt. Linus Delaney (Dan Taylor) has fallen for the married woman, sneaks away to see her whenever he can and tries to get her to leave her husband. The indiscretion might cost him his career.

Speaking of Don Taylor, he went on to be a director of some note. His film credits include “Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday” and “Five Man Army” as well as Western TV movies “September Gun” and “Something for a Lonely Man.” His non-Western credits include “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” (1971).

Don Taylor as Lt. Linus Delaney, John Hodiak as Capt. Ben Lorrison and Jean Hagen as Martha Conovan in Ambush (1950)Directed by:
Sam Wood

Cast:
Robert Taylor … Ward Kinsman
John Hodiak … Capt. Ben Lorrison
Don Taylor … Lt. Linus Delaney
Leon Ames … Maj. Breverly
Arlene Dahl … Ann Duverall
Jean Hagen … Martha Conovan
Bruce Cowling … Tom Conovan
John McIntire … Frank Holly
Charles Stevens … Diablito

Runtime: 89 min.

Memorable lines:

Frank Holly, explaining why he’s risking his neck for a scout’s pay: “I’ve got a sick wife.”
Ward Kinsman: “That beats a sick widow.”

Frank Holly, as the he and a colleague contemplate whether to take on a couple of passing Apache warriors: “You itchin’ for a fight?”
Ward Kinsman: “I’m itchin’ for a horse.”
Holly: “Yeah, I could use a couple more legs myself.”

Maj. Breverly: “I’m to capture Diablito and take him and his band back to the reservation.”
Ward Kinsman: “He won’t go back alive. You’ll have to kill him. And he’ll kill hard. It’ll cost plenty.
Ann Duverall: “Mary’s worth plenty.”
Kinsman: “Like 20 or 30 dead troopers, maybe. And I don’t know how many Indians. And Mrs. Carlisle. Sorry, major, it’s just not my kind of scout.”

Tom Conovan, to his wife, annoyed that she has pestered him for money to buy food on payday: “There’s one pair of pants and one pair of petticoats in the family, and you better learn which fits you.”

Lt. Delaney, to the married woman he’s in love with: “When I get back, I won’t see you again. I don’t think I can stand it.”
Martha Conovan: “Anybody can stand anything, if they have to. Now don’t touch me, Linus. Just say goodbye, and go.”

Ward Kinsman: “The plan is based on what Diablito should do. You’d better be ready for what he can’t possibly do, but probably will.”

Lt. Delaney, as the cavalry prepare to take on the Apache: “You’ll make it. People only die when they have something to live for.”
Ward Kinsman: “I know. That’s why I’m a little worried. For the first time.”

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