Only the Valiant

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For the Argentine film, see Only the Valiant (1940 film).
Only the Valiant
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Produced by William Cagney
Written by Charles Marquis Warren (novel)
Screenplay by Edmund H. North
Harry Brown
Starring Gregory Peck
Barbara Payton
Ward Bond
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography Lionel Lindon
Edited by Walter Hannemann
Robert S. Seiter
William Cagney Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • April 13, 1951 (1951-04-13) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2 million (US rentals)[1]

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 starring Gregory Peck, Barbara Payton, 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, but at the last minute, the colonel says he needs Lance at his fort in case of Apache attack and to assign a 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 rampaging Indians at the ruins of Fort Invincible, which is considered a suicide mission.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952

Further reading[edit]

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