No discussion on western movies can happen without mentioning the name of John Ford. He is the man who made westerns big. He started directing at the age of 23, which is pretty unusual and outstanding. He had directed far more than a century of pictures and this is a hell of a record, to put it in anonymous gunfighter’s mouth. His films such as "Rio Grande" (1950), "The Searchers" (1956) or "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) are all-time westerns classics.
Thinking of John Ford is pretty often thinking of John Wayne, because he was an actor who featured his most popular and successful movies. Wayne, an American legend, an icon of western genre, righteous man with strong character and easily recognizable silhouette.
"The Horse Soldiers" brings, next to Wayne, another legend in person of William Holden. Well known from film-noir genre, Holden made himself immortal by performing in Sam Peckinpah’s masterpiece "The Wild Bunch" (1969), ballet of violence, hated by critics but loved by an audience.
To put them both in one picture was an effort. Wayne, naturally born leading actor, never gives away the set. But nobody is disappointed about that. That’s what he is supposed to do. Holden, little bit in a background but visible all the time.
It’s the American Civil War. Country is divided to north and south. Unionists and Confederates all out war. Viewer travels with blue soldiers who are supposed to play a role in General Grant’s winning plan. Some from the opposite sides know each other and realize that there is no difference between people fighting and the conflict itself is just bringing pain and destruction. That’s a sad fate of horse soldiers.
"The Horse Soldiers" (1959), directed by John Ford, starring: John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers.