|Escape from Fort Bravo|
1953 Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||John Sturges|
|Produced by||Nicholas Nayfack|
|Written by||Michael Pate
|Music by||Jeff Alexander|
|Cinematography||Robert L. Surtees|
|Edited by||George Boemler|
Fort Bravo is a Union prison camp with a strict disciplinarian named Captain Roper (William Holden). A pretty woman named Carla Forester (Eleanor Parker) shows up to help with a wedding of her friend but is really there to assist in freeing some prisoners including her previous beau Confederate Captain John Marsh (John Forsythe). Roper falls in love with her (and she with him) and the escape happens after the wedding celebrations and Carla goes with the 4 confederate escapees. This gives Roper an additional motive to recapture the escapees. He does just that, but on the way back to the fort, they are attacked by fierce Mescalero Apaches who are hostile to both sides and the group ends up trapped in a shallow exposed depression. Roper frees and arms his prisoners, but even then, it looks like the Apaches will wipe them out. Bailey (John Lupton), a proven coward, escapes when one of their loose horses returns in the night. One by one, the rest of the group are killed, including Campbell (William Demarest), Young (William Campbell), and the Kiowa guide. Marsh and Lieutenant Beecher (Richard Anderson) are wounded. The next morning, to try to save Carla, Roper makes it look like he is the only one left alive and walks out in plain view. He is wounded, but the cavalry comes to the rescue just in time. Roper thanks Bailey for coming with help, while Marsh dies after smiling at Bailey who has come through and shown he is not a coward.
Several members of the supporting cast would have notable careers in television shows of the 1960s and '70s.
The working titles of this film were Rope's End and Fort Bravo. Production dates: early April to late May 1953. Most of the film was shot on location in Gallup, NM and at Death Valley National Monument, CA.
At the time of the film's release, H.H.T. of The New York Times was unimpressed. While he found Sturges's direction full of "professional smoothness," he had many problems with Frank Fenton's "fuzzily defined" characters. The cast, he goes on, "seems confused throughout." Leonard Maltin disagrees, calling the film "well-executed" and awarding it three stars.
According to MGM records the film earned $1,525,000 in the US and Canada and $1,633,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $104,000.