Only the Valiant

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Only the Valiant
Directed byGordon Douglas
Produced byWilliam Cagney
Written byCharles Marquis Warren (novel)
Screenplay byEdmund H. North
Harry Brown
StarringGregory Peck
Barbara Payton
Ward Bond
Music byFranz Waxman
CinematographyLionel Lindon
Edited byWalter Hannemann
Robert S. Seiter
William Cagney Productions
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • April 13, 1951 (1951-04-13) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3,085,000[1]
$2 million (US rentals)[2]

Only the Valiant, also known as Fort Invincible, is a 1951 Western film produced by William Cagney (younger brother of James Cagney), directed by Gordon Douglas and starring Gregory Peck, Barbara Payton, and Ward Bond. The screenplay was written by Edmund H. North and Harry Brown, based on the 1943 novel of the same name by Charles Marquis Warren.


Gregory Peck, in a role he considered a low point of his career, plays Captain Richard Lance, a by-the-book West Point graduate who is not very popular with the men under his command.

Following the American Civil War, peace is maintained in the New Mexico Territory by Fort Invicible, a fortification set up outside a mountain pass that blocks marauding bands of Apache. The Apache are able to eventually take the fort by cutting off its water supply, then assaulting the fort when its garrison is at its weakest and killing all the defenders.

Captain Lance arrives with a patrol soon after the battle and captures Tucsos, the charismatic leader of the Apache. Lance's scout advises the captain to kill Tucsos, but Lance will not shoot a prisoner.

Back at the headquarters of the 5th Cavalry, the invalid commanding officer orders Lance to assign an officer to command an escort to take Tucsos to a larger post. Lance decides to lead the patrol himself, but at the last minute, the colonel says he needs Lance to stay at the fort in case of an Apache attack, and orders him to assign another popular officer, Lieutenant Holloway, to lead the small group of men escorting Tucsos. The Apache free Tucsos and Lieutenant Holloway ends up dead. The men at the fort blame Captain Lance, unaware of the colonel's order. They believe that his decision to assign Lieutenant Holloway to the dangerous mission was for a personal reason (both officers were vying for the affection of the same woman). The woman believes it too, and bitterly breaks up with him.

Lance's standing with the soldiers at the fort only gets worse when he assembles a group of misfit cavalrymen to hold off the rampaging Indians at the ruins of Fort Invincible, which is considered a suicide mission.



According to Warner Bros accounts, the film earned $1,796,000 domestically and $1,630,000 foreign.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 31 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  2. ^ 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952

Further reading[edit]

  • Warren, Charles Marquis (1943). Only the Valiant. New York City: The Macmillan Company.
  • Fishgall, Gary (2002). Gregory Peck: a biography. New York City: Simon & Schuster. pp. 156–158. ISBN 978-0-684-85290-4.
  • Gevinson, Alan (1997). The AFI Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. pp. 741–742. ISBN 978-0-520-20964-0.
  • Haney, Lynn (2005). Gregory Peck: A Charmed Life. New York City: Carroll & Graf Publishers. pp. 197–201. ISBN 978-0-7867-1656-2.
  • Payton, Barbara (2004). I Am Not Ashamed. Los Angeles, California: Holloway House Publishing. ISBN 978-0-87067-108-1.

External links[edit]