Major John Harkness is the commander of Fort Bravo, a small outpost established after the Civil War to protect the settlers. Although permanently lacking in troops and provisions, he has always managed to avoid any incident with the Indians. Unfortunately, this delicate balance is undermined one day by a tragic error committed by Buckley, a wagon driver. The latter has indeed killed a group of young Indians he had mistaken for rebels whereas they were only in search of horses. All that could degenerate into a war but Harkness will not let it happen, whatever the price to pay…
Not a bad film: an interesting-looking fort, good scenery, L Q Jones gets some decent screen-time and there’s no contrived love interest (just a bit of on-off-on romance between two youngsters in the wagon train). But Peppard’s persona is a bit too genial for a disciplinarian CO of an undermanned garrison; it was a bit of a shock when, after it has been surprised by the Indians, he puts enlisted men on 18 hours of duty a day and officers on 24 (for three days); not a good idea when there’s meant to be 2,000 hostiles threatening 70 just soldiers. We don’t get to see many of the 2,000, and the rescue bid (which, thankfully, doesn’t descend into the A-team heroics that Peppard came to be identified with) seems to involve taking on just four or five of them. Funny title: I understand “bravos” to be hired ruffians or killers, and none of the protagonists fill this description. Even the fugitive from justice isn’t really a bad guy.
Mildly enjoyable and well made.
The story begins with a group of settlers passing through Navajo country. What the settlers don’t realize is that the man leading them (Pernell Roberts) is an irresponsible idiot. His actions end up nearly killing all of them, as he thought it was prudent to shoot some natives he saw near their camp….and not surprisingly the dead men’s friends and family want vengeance.
This incident with the natives came at a very bad time. It seems that the nearby cavalry unit (led by Peppard) is overextended and can barely take care of themselves…let alone the settlers. Soon both groups are under attack and to top things off, the angry natives kidnap the commander’s son!
This is a good film…no doubt about it. The only negative is that so many westerns were made for TV in the 1950s, 60s and into the 70s that I am sure this one kind of got lost among them. But it is well written, well acted and tense. Not a great movie…but a very good one.