Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Escape from Fort Bravo

A search of the blog claims that I haven't done a full-length post on Escape from Fort Bravo before. It's airing overnight at 3:15 AM as part of TCM's look at the western genre, and is worth a look.

William Holden plays Capt. Roper, an Army captain at Fort Bravo, somewhere in the Arizona Territory. It's the Civil War era, and Fort Bravo is being used as a POW camp for Confederates. Naturally, the Confederates want to escape, and it's Roper's job to make certain they don't. It's a job he can be fairly brutal in, as we see early on when he brings a would-be escapee back all lassoed up.

Part of the reason for having a POW camp out in the Arizona Territory is because it's far away from the front. The other part of it is that it serves the plot device of being in Indian territory, and having various native tribes who just hate the encroaching white man and want to go to war with the white man, which as you can imagine would be a reasonable plot point. Heaven knows enough movies have used it before. And so this one does too, as Roper and his men have to go out and find some stagecoaches that haven't made it to their appointed destination. It's in this search that he finds Carla (Eleanor Parker). She's come to the fort to be at the wedding of her friend Alice (Polly Bergen; Alice is also the daughter of the camp commander who is Roper's commanding officer), and she's survived an Indian attack. Roper takes her back to the fort, and the two immediately begin to fall in love.

Of course, it's all just a set-up. Not just so the plot will have romantic tension; but also because Carla isn't really in love with Roper. In fact, she's in love with Capt. Marsh (John Forsythe), a Confederate officer and POW at Fort Bravo who is technically in command of the Confederate prisoners. Carla is a spy and it's her job to help Marsh and some of his men escape!

This happens, and you can probably guess what happens for most of the rest of the movie. Roper goes after them and eventually catches up. Sparks fly between him and Carla, as she begins to realize she might really be in love with him and not Marsh. And those Indians decide now would be a good time to attack.

Escape from Fort Bravo is a competently-made western that I found had a lot familiar with it. There's nothing particularly bad about it, but I didn't feel it had anything particularly special. The fight with the Indians, which winds up in a siege, is reasonably well handled, however.

People who like westerns will find a lot to love here. People who are relatively new to westerns would probably find some new stuff here, although I'd start off recommending some other westerns first.

Escape from Fort Bravo does seem to be available on DVD if you miss tonight's airing on TCM.

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