Sergeant Rutledge

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Sergeant Rutledge
Sergeant Rutledge image.jpg
Directed by John Ford
Produced by Willis Goldbeck
Patrick Ford
Written by James Warner Bellah
Willis Goldbeck
Starring Woody Strode
Jeffrey Hunter
Music by Howard Jackson
Mack David (Song "Captain Buffalo")
Jeffrey Livingston (Song "Captain Buffalo")
Cinematography Bert Glennon
Edited by Jack Murray
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s)
  • 1960 (1960)
Running time 111 min.
Country United States
Language English

Sergeant Rutledge is a 1960 Western and military courtroom drama starring Woody Strode and Jeffrey Hunter.[1] It was directed by John Ford and shot on location in Monument Valley, Utah.

The film starred Strode as a black first sergeant in the United States Cavalry accused of the rape and murder of a white girl at a U.S. Army fort in the late 1880s.[2]

Plot[edit]

The film revolves around the court-martial of 1st Sgt. Braxton Rutledge (Strode), a "Buffalo Soldier" of the 9th U.S. Cavalry. His defense is handled by Lt. Tom Cantrell (Hunter), Rutledge's troop officer. The story is told through a series of flashbacks, expanding the testimony of witnesses as they describe the events following the murder of Rutledge's Commanding Officer, Major Dabney, and the rape and murder of Dabney's daughter, for which Rutledge is the accused.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that the first sergeant raped and murdered the girl and then killed his commanding officer. Worse still, Rutledge deserts after the killings. Ultimately, he is tracked down and arrested by Lt. Cantrell. At one point, Rutledge escapes from captivity during an Indian raid, but later, he voluntarily returns to warn his fellow cavalrymen that they are about to face an ambush, thus saving the troop. He is then brought back in to face the charges and the prejudices of an all-white military court.

Eventually he is found not guilty of the rape and murder of the girl when a local white man breaks down under questioning and admits that he raped the girl.

Cast[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; April 16, 1960; page 64.
  2. ^ Ford's use of the 9th was in error. At the time of the story, with Gen. Nelson A. Miles in command, the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th U.S. Cavalry served in Arizona. The 9th Cavalry was stationed in West Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, and Nebraska, but never Arizona.

External links[edit]