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Film / Only the Valiant

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Only the Valiant is a 1951 Western film directed by Gordon Douglas and starring Gregory Peck, Barbara Payton, and Ward Bond. It was based on a 1943 novel of the same name by Charles Marquis Warren.

Captain Richard Lance (Peck), a West Point graduate, arrives at Fort Invicible, a fortification set up in the New Mexico Territory, soon after a band of Apache assaulted the fort and captures their leader, Tucsos (Michael Ansara). Lance is ordered to assign an officer to command an escort to take Tucsos to a larger post. Lance decides to lead the patrol himself, but at the last minute, he is told to stay at the fort in case of an Apache attack, and is ordered to assign another popular officer, Lieutenant Holloway, to lead the small group of men escorting Tucsos. The Apache ambush the group, kill Lieutenant Holloway and free Tucsos. The men at the fort blame Captain Lance, unaware of the orders he received, believing that his decision to assign Lieutenant Holloway to the dangerous mission was for a personal reason, as both officers were vying for the affection of the same woman, Cathy Eversham (Payton). Lance's standing with the soldiers at the fort only gets worse when he assembles a group of misfit cavalrymen to hold off the rampaging Indians at the ruins of Fort Invincible, which is considered a suicide mission.


This film features examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Gilchrist is a notorious alcoholic who hoards whiskey before the mission starts.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Kebussyan is the most obsessed with Holloway and is bent on revenge on Lance for allowing him to die.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Lance is a by-the-book captain. This did not make him very popular with the men under his command, such as refusing to shoot the prisoner Tucsos, and it really isn't helped by Tucsos later escaping and killing the popular Holloway.
  • Clear My Name: Lance is wrongfully accused of getting Holloway killed by the Apaches, so he must redeem himself in front of his men during an Indian attack on the fort.
  • Dwindling Party: At the end of the film, only Lance, Gilchrist and Saxton are left alive.
  • Killed Offscreen: Murdock and Onstott are killed offscreen after Lance detonates the entire pass.
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  • Love Triangle: Both Lance and Holloway were vying for the affection of Cathy, which made the men at the fort believe that Holloway was put in the escort mission in which he was ultimately killed due to Lance wanting him dead, unaware that Lance received superior orders to do so.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Lance assembles a group of misfit cavalrymen to hold off the rampaging Indians at the ruins of Fort Invincible.
  • Really Gets Around: Almost as prominent as Gilchrist's alcoholism is his womanising.
  • The Savage Indian: Apaches are the antagonists of the film.
  • Suicide Mission: Escorting Tucsos is considered one by the cavalrymen. Later on, Lance's mission to hold off the rampaging Indians at the ruins of Fort Invincible is also considered one.
  • The Starscream: Murdock thinks he can be a better captain and tries to usurp Lance at every opportunity.
  • Uriah Gambit: The cavalrymen believe that Lance pulled one of these in Holloway, putting him in the dangerous mission of escorting the Apache leader to get him killed because both men were vying for the affection of the same woman, unaware that in reality this isn't the case; Lance received superior orders to do so.


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