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I am trying to find a movie for my dad. He remembers scant details about it, but from he remembers:
1) it's black and white
2) cavalry movie
3) may or may not feature John Wayne
4) It's about a US cavalry division that fights native americans and splits into three groups before attacking.
5) Many native american tribes unite to fight the cavalry team
6) The war was started because US senators couldn't agree on something with the native americans.

Sorry but that's all the info I have. Hopefully someone can help me out here.

Dear Allen:

     When I first saw this question, I immediately thought of "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" starring John Wayne as Captain Nathan Brittles. I am enclosing a brief synopsis.On the verge of his retirement at Fort Starke, a one-troop cavalry post, aging US Cavalry Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles (John Wayne) is given one last mission: to take his troop and deal with a breakout from the reservation by the Cheyenne and Arapaho following the defeat of George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Brittles task is complicated by being forced at the same time to deliver his commanding officer's wife and niece, Abby Allshard (Mildred Natwick) and Olivia Dandridge (Joanne Dru), to an eastbound stage and by the need to avoid a new Indian war. His troop officers, 1st Lt. Flint Cohill (John Agar) and 2nd Lt. Ross Pennell (Harry Carey, Jr.), meanwhile vie for the affections of Miss Dandridge while uneasily anticipating the retirement of their captain and mentor.

Assisting him with his mission is Capt. Brittles' chief scout, Sgt. Tyree (Ben Johnson), a one-time Confederate cavalry officer; his First Sergeant, Quincannon (Victor McLaglen); and Maj. Allshard (George O'Brien), Brittles' long-time friend and commanding officer.

After apparently failing in both missions, Brittles returns with the troop to Fort Starke to retire. His lieutenants continue the mission in the field, joined by Brittles after "quitting the post and the Army". Unwilling to see more lives needlessly taken, Brittles takes it upon himself to try to make peace with Chief Pony That Walks (Chief John Big Tree). When that too fails, he devises a risky stratagem to avoid a bloody war by stampeding the Indians' horses out of their camp, forcing the renegades to return to their reservation.

The movie ends with Brittles being recalled to duty as chief of scouts with the rank of lieutenant-colonel and Miss Dandridge and Lt. Cohill becoming engaged.

 However my second choice and this may be more of the movie your dad is looking for would be "They Died with Their Boots On" (1941) starring Errol Flynn. This movie is still black and white and though the choosing of Errol Flynn to play George Armstrong Custer is later revealed to be a casting error, the movie succeeds due to its realistic portrayal of cavalry tactics, especially when Custer did divide his army into three groups before the actual engagement. So logistically the movie succeeds on certain technical levels. Again I will enclose a brief synopsis of this film as well.The film follows the life of George Armstrong Custer (Errol Flynn) including his attending the West Point Military Academy, his wooing of Elizabeth "Libby" Bacon (Olivia de Havilland) who becomes his loving wife, and his participation in the American Civil War and the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Custer enters West Point and quickly establishes himself as a troublemaker, after showing up in an outfit he designed himself that made him appear as a visiting officer. After he is almost kicked out of West Point for the misunderstanding, he signs up as a cadet, and stacks up demerits for pranks, unruliness, and disregard of rules. When the Civil War breaks out his class at West Point is graduated early, including Custer who graduates at the bottom of the class, and is ordered to report to Washington, D.C..

Custer's relationship with Libby Bacon begins at West Point, when he is walking a punishment tour around the campus. On punishment, he is not allowed to talk, but he is approached by Libby who is looking for directions. As soon as his punishment is over, he runs after her, and tells her he will meet her at her front porch that evening. Because of his orders to travel to Washington, Custer misses his meeting with her.

Once in Washington, Custer befriends General Winfield Scott (Sydney Greenstreet) who aids him in being placed with the 2nd Cavalry. He becomes a war hero after disregarding his superiors' orders in a crucial battle and successfully defending a bridge for the infantry to cross. He is awarded a medal while recovering in hospital after a shot to the shoulder, then gets leave to go home to Monroe, Michigan. He meets Libby again but angers her father, who had been a butt of his joking at a bar earlier in the day. Custer returns to his regiment. Due to a miscommunication from the war department, he is promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He takes command of the Michigan Brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg, wins the day, and many victories follow him all the way to Appomattox.

Upon returning home to Monroe as a hero, Custer marries Libby and they set up a house together. However, Custer is bored with civilian life and has begun to drink. Libby visits Custer's friend General Scott and asks him to assign Custer to a regiment again. He agrees, and Custer is given a Lt. Colonel's commission in the Dakota Territory, where he will ultimately be involved in the Battle of Little Big Horn, later also called "Custer's Last Stand".

When Custer and Libby arrive in the Dakota Territory, Custer finds the soldiers he is supposed to lead are drunken, rowdy good-for-nothings. An old enemy from West Point, Ned Sharp (Arthur Kennedy), is running the bar in town, as well as the General Store which is providing firearms to the local Native Americans. Furious, Custer shuts down the bar and teaches his troops a song, "Garryowen", which brings fame to the 7th Cavalry. They have many engagements with Dakota leader Crazy Horse (Anthony Quinn). Crazy Horse wants peace but wants a treaty to protect the Black Hills. Custer and Washington sign the treaty. The new treaty is almost bankrupting Sharp's trading posts so they spread a rumor of discovery of rich gold deposits in the area, to get Euro-American settlers to stream into the Black Hills. Custer and his troops will permit no infraction of the treaty. However, Sharp gives the troops each a bottle of liquor right before they are supposed to report, and they embarrass Custer by riding past Commissioner Taipe (a politician in league with the Sharps) while drunk. Custer hits Taipe in anger and is relieved of his command.

On the train home, Custer hears from Libby about Sharp's attempts to start a gold rush in the Black Hills, a plan that would bring lots of business to Sharp's shipping line. Outraged, Custer takes the information to the U.S. Congress, but they ridicule him. When news arrives that the presence of gold miners has led to open conflict between Native Americans and U.S. troops, Custer appeals to President Ulysses S. Grant who restores to him command of the 7th.

On the day of "Custer's Last Stand", Custer realizes that a group of infantry will march into a valley where thousands of Native Americans stand ready to fight them. Knowing the infantry won't have a chance, he says a tearful goodbye to Libby and leads his battalion into the battle to save the infantry. Arrows fly and horses trample across the valley, and all are killed, including Sharp, who had elected to ride with the regiment to, as Custer puts it, "Hell or glory. It depends on one's point of view", and who admits with his last breath that Custer may have been right about glory and money when he said that "At least you can take [glory] with you". Custer himself is finally downed by a gunshot from Crazy Horse.

Custer is portrayed as a fun-loving, dashing figure who chooses honor and glory over money and corruption. Though his "Last Stand" is probably treated as more significant and dramatic than it may have actually been, Custer follows through on his promise to teach his men "to endure and die with their boots on." In the movie's version of Custer's story, a few corrupt white politicians goad the western tribes into war, threatening the survival of all white settlers in the West. Custer and his men give their lives at Little Bighorn to delay the Indians and prevent this slaughter. A letter left behind by Custer absolves the Indians of all responsibility.
 As you see, this is a more sympathetic depiction of the controversial leader and he is cast as more of a confident tactician than haphazard glory seeker.
I hope this does answer your question and this film is what your father is searching for. I have enjoyed researching this question and if there is any additional way, I could help you, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Take care and have a blessed day,
Bruce Simon


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Bruce Simon


I can answer virtually any question concerning TV westerns since 1950. I also have collected Western movies faithfully since 1984 and own several hundred (prominent ones such as High Noon or How the West was Won) as well as B movies and below (White Comanche and The Sundowners)I own rare TV series such as Yancey Derringer,the 13 episodes of Tate with David Maclean, and select episodes of Judge Roy Bean


I have been a Western aficionado since the age of 8 (so for the last 50 years). I have been a faithful collector of Lone Ranger episodes and memorabilia since the early 1970s. I find myself drawn more to the black and white series because I find color an unnecessary plot distraction and love to study the evolution and settlement of the Old West through the leather bound Time-Life series on the West. The principal factor which attracts me to this period is the consistent triumph of virtue over vice. The forces of evil, no matter how malevolent, are never victorious in any Western. So I am appreciative of the inflexible morality set forth in most Western series

I have belonged to 5 different churches in 35 years where I have held posts of Sunday school teacher, outreach leader, and board member. Since my retirement to Rowlesburg, West Virginia, I have held the post of Town Park Commissioner for 2 years and anticipate a position on our Town Council beginning in July.

I was a free lance book reviewer for the Richmond Times Dispatch for 15 years, I reviewed 129 books during this period. I also reviewed 25 books for Style Weekly, an independent publication.

I have a BA in English Literature and a minor in Linguistics from Virginia Commonwealth University. I graduated in 1976. I also had a half year of Bible College from New Life Outreach in Richmond, Virginia (1984-1985)

Awards and Honors
While employed by the Richmond Public Library for 29 years, I have been honored for outstanding customer service and have received awards for creative programming for Young Adults on 2 occasions.

Past/Present Clients
I am still an expert for the category of mystery fiction on this website.

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