Sergeant Rutledge


Action / Crime / Drama / Western

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 90% · 10 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 89% · 250 ratings
IMDb Rating 7.4/10 10 5147 5.1K

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Plot summary

Respected black cavalry Sergeant Brax Rutledge stands court-martial for raping and killing a white woman and murdering her father, his superior officer.

Uploaded by: FREEMAN
April 26, 2021 at 03:54 PM


Top cast

Jeffrey Hunter as Lt. Tom Cantrell
Hank Worden as Laredo
Jack Pennick as Courtroom Sergeant
Billie Burke as Mrs. Cordelia Fosgate
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1023.72 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 51 min
P/S 1 / 1
1.86 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 51 min
P/S 2 / 3

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by SnoopyStyle 6 / 10

great attempt

Sergeant Braxton Rutledge (Woody Strode) is a black cavalry soldier on trial for unknown charges which has the town up in arms. Lieutenant Tom Cantrell (Jeffrey Hunter) is his defense attorney. Mary Beecher (Constance Towers) is called as the first witness. She recalls when she was talking with Cantrell on a train as it arrives in Spindle. There has been an Apache breakout from the nearby reservation.

This is a John Ford western in Monument Valley. The premise is that each witness in the trial leads to a flashback to the events. It starts poorly with the prosecutor doing some over-the-top sleaziness followed by an over-the-top grand standing by Cantrell. I don't know how the judge can stay in the case when his wife is put on the witness stand. The movie is generally pushing too hard but that era does push on the melodramatic button. It doesn't make it good especially considering the subject matter. Gregory Peck's reserved acting really helps to sell To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). There is a significant difference between the two. This movie has the broad comedy and broad melodrama which really takes it in a wrong direction. On the other hand, I am enthralled with the story and the great attempt at racial politics in the trial. There is also a final problem with the twist. There is no reason for that person to interrupt and then testify. That person would not do it that way. He would go right to the reveal if he feels a certain way. He would not do a detour like that. He would just stand up and say the whole thing. I hope I didn't do a spoiler. This movie has a great filmmaker doing great filmmaking making at stab at the great subject matter of racial justice. I don't always like the comedic tones and some of the broad acting. Full marks for the attempt.

Reviewed by MartinHafer 9 / 10

This film deserves to be more well-known and watched

This is a marvelous Western starring Jeffery Hunter and Woodie Strode--thanks in large part to the always wonderful direction of John Ford and the fact that this film dared to take a big risk. In the 1950s and 60s, American was still struggling desperately with racism and it was still widely acceptable to demean or mistreat Black people. However, this film deliberately tries to debunk this myth that Black people are in some way inferior. The film attacks racism without being preachy or ridiculous (something that makes me hate GENTLEMEN'S AGREEMENT due to its very heavy-handed way of dealing with antisemitism).

Woody Strode, as usual, plays a very dignified and wonderful role as a soldier on trial for rape and murder. He was a very fine actor and you wonder how much further he could have gone in life had he been White. Hunter plays the man defending him and shows more than he could in most of his other pretty forgettable films. The actual story of what occurred unfolds in flashbacks told during the course of the trial and the style is very reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa's film Rashômon. This is VERY ironic, as for years, Kurosawa had been a huge fan of Ford and tried to emulate the master director! In this case, it is the other way around! The film is near-perfect in the acting, story and execution. Watch this film and see that Westerns CAN be more than just the typical horse and Indian flick.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 9 / 10

".....With a whoop and a holler and ring-tang-toe, Hup Two Three Four, Captain Buffalo, Captain Buffalo"

John Ford who was among many who perpetuated black racial stereotypes, notably in Judge Priest and The Sun Shines Bright, got a chance to redeem himself with the making of Sergeant Rutledge. A year before in the Robert Mitchum film, The Wonderful Country, Negro League baseball legend Satchel Paige played a black cavalry sergeant in a supporting role. But in Sergeant Rutledge the story centers around such a character and the ordeal he goes through when accused of rape and murder. The victims are his commanding officer and his daughter.

The leads are Woody Strode as the accused Sergeant Braxton Rutledge and Jeffrey Hunter as the lieutenant who defends him in a court martial. The story is told in flashback through the accounts of the many witnesses at the court martial and in some of those scenes, John Ford got to revisit his beloved Monument Valley for some good old Indian fights.

The murders at the fort take place simultaneously with an outbreak from the Apache reservation. Constance Towers who discovers both the results of an Indian attack and the fleeing sergeant at the railroad station, becomes both Rutledge's biggest champion and the object of Jeffrey Hunter's romantic intentions.

The dilemma that Strode faced was that by so many black people, especially in the south. He comes upon the dead girl who he knows from the fort and the fact she's been sexually violated. Her father sees him together with his dead daughter and assumes the worst about him and shoots him. Strode is forced to kill him in self defense and then has to run. A white man might have stayed and explained. The father might not have fired on a white man either.

Woody Strode had he come along ten to fifteen years later might well have become an action hero star like Wesley Snipes for instance. As it was here and in his small role in Spartacus as Kirk Douglas's opponent in the gladiator school he plays both with impassive dignity and strength. These became his career roles, too bad he didn't build on Sergeant Rutledge to get better parts like black actors did in the next generation.

Two of John Ford's stock company regulars shine in Sergeant Rutledge, Carleton Young and Willis Bouchey. Carleton Young is Captain Shattuck, the prosecutor at the Rutledge court martial and he's not above playing the race card to win his case. Very similar in fact to William Windom's prosecutor in To Kill a Mockingbird. Unfortunately for Young, he's not dealing with a jury of uneducated sharecroppers.

Willis Bouchey is the presiding judge at the court martial and besides the court martial he has to deal with Billie Burke, his flibbertigibbet of a wife. He's got a lot grief to deal with, made double by the fact that Burke is called by Young as a witness. A lot of the comic relief in Sergeant Rutledge centers around Burke. This was her farewell screen role and she went out in scatterbrained style.

Jeffrey Hunter turns out to be a pretty good lawyer himself and he brings the trial to a sudden end with a bit of fast thinking on his feet worthy of Perry Mason.

This very first film dealing with the black buffalo soldiers of the U.S. Cavalry is great viewing for those who like both courtroom drama and westerns. If you like both, this is your film.

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