Movie Review: Two Flags West (1950)

Synopsis: A captured Confederate cavalry unit is given a choice, stay in a prison camp for the remainder of the war or receive amnesty in exchange for serving with the Union Army and defending a western fort against the Apache. The men accept the latter only to discover the fort's commanding officer, mourning the loss of his brother, may not be willing to honor the conditions of their agreement. Things become even more complicated when the men are assigned to escort a wagon train and the commander's sister-in-law decides to travel with them.

Who's it in? The movie stars Joseph Cotten, Linda Darnell, Jeff Chandler, Cornel Wilde and Dale Robertson.

Review: I came across this movie last night while waiting for my daughter to get done at the ice rink. It looked somewhat intriguing, so I decided to give it a try and it turned out to be a better movie than expected.

I think the thing I liked most about this movie was how it wasn't anywhere near as predictable as I thought it would be. Part of the reason for this was the mistrust between Lt. Clay Tucker (Cotten) and the fort's commander, Maj. Kenniston (Chandler), both from having served on opposite sides of the Civil War and because of Kenniston's obsession with his deceased brother's wife, Elena (Darnell).

Adding to this was an active effort by Confederate spies to recruit Tucker to help capture the fort. While I wasn't convinced Tucker would follow through with something like that, his men seemed like they might give it some serious consideration, with or without him. That, combined with the threat of attack from a rebellious Native American leader, meant just about anything could wind up happening.

Kenniston's obsession with his sister-in-law was also an intriguing part of the plot. I wasn't sure if he was in love with her or was just being extra protective because she was married to his brother. He didn't really seem like he was a bad guy, just someone who maybe didn't realize he was crossing a line.

It became even more interesting when there seemed to be a budding love triangle between Elena, Tucker and Union Captain/Tucker's friend Mark Bradford (Wilde). It was one of those things that seemed destined to come to a head and have a major impact on the whole movie with the fact she preferred to just leave the fort and rejoin her family in California adding another potential outcome.

The big battle scene toward the end was fun to watch, both because it had quite a bit of action and because the outcome wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be. It was also unclear whether or not the movie would wind up having a happy ending or something more tragic.

Final Opinion: The movie exceeded my expectations and wound up being an interesting film with a good mix of drama and action. It's a movie I would recommend taking the time to watch if you get a chance.

My Grade: A


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