She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

103-104 mins | Western | 22 October 1949

Director:

John Ford

Cinematographer:

Winton Hoch

Editor:

Jack Murray

Production Designer:

James Basevi

Production Company:

Argosy Pictures Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

An offscreen narrator provides commentary intermittently throughout the film. In the onscreen credits, technical advisor Maj. Philip J. Kieffer's credit reads as "Major Philip Kieffer U.S.A., Retd." In addition to "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," the traditional song "The Girl I Left Behind Me" is also heard in part in the film. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was the second film in John Ford's "cavalry" trilogy, and the only one to be shot in color. HR news items add the following information about the production: In Aug 1948, Argosy Pictures was negotiating for Charles Bickford to play the film's lead. As with Ford's previous cavalry film, Fort Apache , most of the picture was shot in Monument Valley in southern Utah and northeastern Arizona. Harold von Schmidt, an illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post , was hired to do "special advertising" illustrations for the picture. Modern sources add the following information about the film: James Warner Bellah worked on the original screen adaptation of his short stories. After Bellah, Laurence Stallings was brought in to improve the script's pacing, structure and dialogue. In addition to expanding certain moments from the short stories, Stallings developed the romantic sub-plot between "Olivia" and the two lieutenants. Frank Nugent was then hired to polish the script.
       The film was budgeted at $1,851,290, $40,000 less than Fort Apache , and because of Ford's familiarity with the Monument Valley area, it was completed after only thirty-one days of shooting and was brought in almost $500,000 under budget. In a modern interview, Ford notes that he and photographer Winton Hoch attempted ... More Less

An offscreen narrator provides commentary intermittently throughout the film. In the onscreen credits, technical advisor Maj. Philip J. Kieffer's credit reads as "Major Philip Kieffer U.S.A., Retd." In addition to "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," the traditional song "The Girl I Left Behind Me" is also heard in part in the film. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was the second film in John Ford's "cavalry" trilogy, and the only one to be shot in color. HR news items add the following information about the production: In Aug 1948, Argosy Pictures was negotiating for Charles Bickford to play the film's lead. As with Ford's previous cavalry film, Fort Apache , most of the picture was shot in Monument Valley in southern Utah and northeastern Arizona. Harold von Schmidt, an illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post , was hired to do "special advertising" illustrations for the picture. Modern sources add the following information about the film: James Warner Bellah worked on the original screen adaptation of his short stories. After Bellah, Laurence Stallings was brought in to improve the script's pacing, structure and dialogue. In addition to expanding certain moments from the short stories, Stallings developed the romantic sub-plot between "Olivia" and the two lieutenants. Frank Nugent was then hired to polish the script.
       The film was budgeted at $1,851,290, $40,000 less than Fort Apache , and because of Ford's familiarity with the Monument Valley area, it was completed after only thirty-one days of shooting and was brought in almost $500,000 under budget. In a modern interview, Ford notes that he and photographer Winton Hoch attempted to duplicate the style of Frederic Remington's western paintings in their screen images. During production, Hoch filed a formal protest with the American Society of Cinematographers, complaining that a scene that Ford ordered him to shoot during a desert storm was not acceptable to him. Hoch won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Color) for his work on this film, and despite his differences with Ford during the production, went on to shoot other notable pictures for him, including The Quiet Man and The Searchers . Modern sources credit Barbara Ford (Ford's daughter) as assistant editor and add Paul Fix and Dan White to the cast. For more information on Ford's cavalry trilogy, see above entry for Fort Apache . John Wayne reprised his role in a 12 Mar 1951 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast, co-starring Mel Ferrer. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 Jul 1949.
---
Daily Variety
27 Jul 49
p. 3, 5
Film Daily
28 Jul 49
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 48
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 48
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 49
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 49
pp. 3-5.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Jul 49
p. 4697.
New York Times
18 Nov 49
p. 35.
Variety
27 Jul 49
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Pres
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Men's ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus arr
Mus cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Cost research
Tech adv
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Big Hunt" by James Warner Bellah in The Saturday Evening Post (6 Dec 1947) and his short story "War Party" in The Saturday Evening Post (19 Jun 1948).
SONGS
"She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," traditional.
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 October 1949
Premiere Information:
Kansas City, KS premiere: 26 July 1949
Production Date:
late October--late November 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Argosy Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
26 July 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2493
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
103-104
Length(in feet):
9,316
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13509
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1876, immediately after the death of General George Armstrong Custer at Little Big Horn, a government stagecoach crossing the remote southwest desert is robbed of its payroll and its driver is killed. Capt. Nathan Brittles, who oversees the Seventh Cavalry at nearby Fort Stark, is disturbed to learn that the attackers were southern Cheyenne Indians, as he knows that the Cheyenne rarely venture so far south. Later, while thinking aloud by his wife Mary's grave, Nathan, who is retiring from the Army in six days, realizes that his last mission will be to drive the Cheyenne back north. The next day, however, Nathan's commander, Major "Mac" Allshard, orders him to take his wife Abby and genteel niece, Olivia Dandridge, along with the Indian patrol and deliver them to Sudros Wells, where they are to catch a stagecoach East. After registering a formal protest with Allshard, Nathan leads the large patrol from the fort, with Olivia and Abby in tow. Upon seeing the pretty Olivia with a yellow ribbon in her hair, rival suitors Lt. Clint Cohill and Lt. Ross Pennell each wonder if she is wearing the symbolic ribbon in their honor, but she refuses to reveal her preference. Soon after leaving the fort, Nathan hears from his scout, the southern Sgt. Tyree, that two white men have been spotted riding toward Sudros Wells. Tyree later reports that a large group of Arapaho Indians are also traveling toward Sudros Wells. Concerned for the women's safety, Nathan orders his patrol to take a different, slightly longer route to the depot, fully aware that the detour may mean missing the stage. Along the new ... +


In 1876, immediately after the death of General George Armstrong Custer at Little Big Horn, a government stagecoach crossing the remote southwest desert is robbed of its payroll and its driver is killed. Capt. Nathan Brittles, who oversees the Seventh Cavalry at nearby Fort Stark, is disturbed to learn that the attackers were southern Cheyenne Indians, as he knows that the Cheyenne rarely venture so far south. Later, while thinking aloud by his wife Mary's grave, Nathan, who is retiring from the Army in six days, realizes that his last mission will be to drive the Cheyenne back north. The next day, however, Nathan's commander, Major "Mac" Allshard, orders him to take his wife Abby and genteel niece, Olivia Dandridge, along with the Indian patrol and deliver them to Sudros Wells, where they are to catch a stagecoach East. After registering a formal protest with Allshard, Nathan leads the large patrol from the fort, with Olivia and Abby in tow. Upon seeing the pretty Olivia with a yellow ribbon in her hair, rival suitors Lt. Clint Cohill and Lt. Ross Pennell each wonder if she is wearing the symbolic ribbon in their honor, but she refuses to reveal her preference. Soon after leaving the fort, Nathan hears from his scout, the southern Sgt. Tyree, that two white men have been spotted riding toward Sudros Wells. Tyree later reports that a large group of Arapaho Indians are also traveling toward Sudros Wells. Concerned for the women's safety, Nathan orders his patrol to take a different, slightly longer route to the depot, fully aware that the detour may mean missing the stage. Along the new route, the patrol is surprised to see a large herd of grazing buffalo. Tyree and Nathan speculate that an inter-tribal council meeting is being planned, at which the white men, Indian agent Karl Rynders and his interpreter, will be selling guns, and Red Shirt, an ambitious, radical Arapaho chief, will be claiming responsibility for the return of the buffalo. In order to protect the depot residents, Nathan orders Tyree to go to Paradise River and bring the small unit he commands there to Sudros Wells. Before Tyree reaches Paradise River, however, his unit is attacked by Indians, who are then chased off by Nathan's men. As a storm breaks over the desert, Tyree's patrol rides on and wounded Corp. Mike Quayne is operated on by Dr. O'Laughlin. By the time the patrol reaches Sudros Wells, the outpost has been decimated by the Indians, and the patrol is forced to turn back for Fort Stark. That night, Clint, who has been quarreling with Ross over Olivia during the entire trip, spies on the council meeting with Nathan and Tyree and watches as Rynders and the interpreter are brutally murdered by the Indians. When the patrol reaches Paradise River the next day, Nathan orders Clint and three squadrons of men to stay behind and cover their crossing. After Nathan promises to return the next day to relieve Clint, Olivia kisses the lieutenant goodbye, finally indicating her romantic choice. Back at Fort Stark, Nathan declares the mission a failure and, despite his imminent retirement, asks permission to return to Paradise River. Allshard, however, insists that Ross, who will soon be second in charge under Clint, lead the men back to the river. Although Nathan agrees with Allshard that the lieutenants' mettle should be tested and proudly accepts a silver retirement watch from his troops, he later joins the patrol at the river. Noting that he is technically still in charge, Nathan orders Clint and the troops to remain at the river, while he and Tyree try to negotiate peace with the Indians. Despite a warm reception from Pony-That-Walks, an elderly chief, Nathan is unable to alter the Indians' drive toward war. Consequently, he orders his men to attack the Indian camp at midnight and scatter their horses. With no deaths or casualties, the raid is a success, and the Indians are forced to return to their reservations on foot. Just as Nathan is about to ride off for California, Tyree presents him with a letter from the War Department, promoting him to chief of scouts at a new post. The newly assigned lieutenant colonel accepts the congratulations of his fellow cavalrymen at Fort Stark, where a dance is in progress and, after blessing Clint and Olivia's engagement, leaves the party to share his good news with Mary. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.