In Pursuit of Honor
|In Pursuit of Honor|
|Directed by||Ken Olin|
|Produced by||E. Barry Mansur|
|Written by||Dennis Lynton Clark|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Distributed by||HBO Pictures|
|89 minutes (TV)
109 minutes (DVD)
In Pursuit of Honor is a 1995 made-for-cable movie directed by Ken Olin. Don Johnson stars as a member of a United States Cavalry detachment refusing to slaughter its horses after being ordered to do so by General Douglas MacArthur. The movie follows the plight of the officers as they attempt to save the animals that the Army no longer needs as it modernizes toward a mechanized military. The movie claims to be based on a true story but without firm evidence to support the claim.
The movie opens in 1932 when World War I veterans are protesting and rallying in Washington D.C. for war bonuses they were promised but never received from the government, a true event known as the Bonus March. U.S. cavalry and infantry are present for crowd control. The mounted cavalry is ordered by Major John Hardesty (Bob Gunton), to present their sabers in order to hold back the protesters. First Sergeant or "Top" John Libbey (Don Johnson), along with three fellow soldiers, refuse to draw their swords because the demonstrators were men they served with during the war. As a consequence, their military careers are tarnished and they are relegated to duty at a remote post in the American Southwest.
Two years later, Lieutenant Marshall Buxton (Craig Sheffer), arrives at his new post, where it is discovered during his interview with retiring Colonel Stuart (Rod Steiger) that he was so assigned because of a fight and that many of the others there are also because of insubordination. Lt. Buxton meets Sergeants Libbey, Quinlain (Neil Melville), Mulcahey (John Dennis Johnston), and Shattuck (Robert Coleby), who together manage the herd of remounts.
Col. Stuart is replaced as post commander by Col. Hardesty, (on promotion). Hardesty's mission is to aid in the transition to a mechanized army. To accomplish this, the horses at the outpost will have to be destroyed. Buxton is ordered to escort the animals to slaughter. While watching the first hundred horses being helplessly shot in a mass grave, Lt. Buxton decides, with the concurrence of Libbey and the other Sergeants, to end the massacre and drive the remaining herd to safety.
A manhunt ensues that forces the renegade men and horses north. Along the way, the men get a little help from retired Col. Stuart in his standing with the U.S. War Department and the Colonel Stuart's daughter Jessica (Gabrielle Anwar), who is a journalist. Many of the horses are lost during the journey, due to exhaustion and injuries. The original idea for the horses is the Indian Reservation in Montana but because of Hardesty's Armored Division they are forced to go north to Canada.
After reaching the Canada–US border and making a final run with the horses, the men are granted a pardon by President Franklin D. Roosevelt while being fired on by light artillery which was inaccurate because of the Gunnery Sergeant's order "accidentally" ranged them to be farther than they were because he did not believe in shooting American soldiers. Buxton's men and the remaining horses are allowed safe passage across the border by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. While Lt. Buxton decides to return to the United States to face charges, Libbey wants to head toward Alaska, the others decide to stay in Canada.
- Don Johnson as Sgt. John Libbey
- Craig Sheffer as Lt. Marshall Buxton
- Gabrielle Anwar as Jessica Stewart
- Bob Gunton as Col. John Hardesty
- James Sikking as General Douglas MacArthur
- John Dennis Johnston as Sgt. Thomas Mulcahey
- Robert Coleby as Sgt. James Shattuck
- Neil Melville as Sgt. Sean Quinlain
- Rod Steiger as Col. Owen Stewart
The film was shot in Australia.
- Ed. Scott Murray, Australia on the Small Screen 1970-1995, Oxford Uni Press, 1996 p61
- In Defense of Honor: General Douglas MacArthur and the Horse Cavalry of 1934