Bugles In The Afternoon

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After violently attacking a fellow officer Lt. Edward Garnett, cavalry Captain Kern Shafter is court martialled. Later, he rejoins the army with Custer’s regiment at Fort Lincoln, Dakota, becoming a sergeant, where he runs into his old foe.

ACTORS :  Ray Milland, Helena Carter, Hugh Marlowe

YEAR OF RELEASE :  1952

 

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Bugles In The Afternoon  Kern Shafter arrives at a Dakota army post to find it commanded by his old nemesis Edward Garnett. Shafter and Garnett despise each other, and the antagonism ripens in a competition for the affections of Josephine Russell, a beautiful young woman. Garnett repeatedly attempts to diminish Shafter in Josephine’s eyes, and he sends Shafter on dangerous missions, clearly hoping Shafter will not return. A scouting mission in support of General Custer’s command leads both Shafter and Garnett into the most dangerous circumstance of their lives.

Enjoyable, Underrated ‘B’ Western

 

Bugles In The Afternoon  This is one of my favourite ‘B’ Westerns. It is highly enjoyable and very underrated (for example, in Halliwell’s Film Guide, it gets no stars at all!).

The cinematography and location filming are very impressive and evocative. The action scenes are exciting and well staged. The scene compositions are particularly well done. For example, in the confrontations and battles between cavalry and Indians, we often see both sides at once, in one shot, making it a lot more realistic and engrossing than cross-cutting between one side and the other.

Sometimes there are moments that are gripping and even spine-tingling, such as the remorseless advance of the Indians up the cliff towards Forrest Tucker as he makes his heroic last stand.

Some of the other reviewers complained about character actor heavies such as Tucker, Barton MacLane and James Millican playing good guys, but actually it is a pleasant change seeing them in sympathetic roles.

There are many effective moments, even in brief shots, such as the ironic one when General Custer, on his way to the Little Big Horn, gives a sweeping, nonchalant bow to the woman who asks him to bring all the men home alive.

I’ve seen this film about five times over the last few decades, and it is still just as good!

 

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