As every Audie Murphy buff knows, his best western was the near-classic No Name On the Bullet, with perhaps Destry a close second. But in the top three (setting the short but brilliant Red Badge of Courage and the autobiographical To Hell and Back, an A movie, aside), Guns of Fort Petticoat is at the top of the list, owing to splendid outdoor action sequences, a smart sense of humor that doesn't allow anyone to take this all too seriously, and . . . to put it bluntly . . . sex appeal. Also, a political consciousness, with Murphy a) going north, despite his being a southwesterner, to fight in the civil war because he's against slavery, and b) his attempt to try and stop the Sand Creek Massacre and save Native American lives. (One historical error: The massacre was not perpetrated by 'regular U.S. army,' as the film suggests, but by a self-styled civilian-soldier group called a 'militia outfit' though really noting more than racist vigilantes.) Knowing that an Indian war is impending, Murphy returns to the war torn southwest and, with men absent, trains women to fight and defend themselves. Something of a feminist western, way ahead of its time, but (thankfully) no polemics, only action, romance, and surprisingly effective comedy. Kathryn Grant makes an adorable female lead for Audie.
Murphy deserts the Union Army to warn former Texas neighbors of impending Indian attacks triggered by Army massacre. He overcomes initial distrust and convinces the homesteaders (all women ...
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