Sergeant Rutledge (1960)

111 mins | Drama | 28 May 1960

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HISTORY

The film's working titles were Captain Buffalo and The Trial of Sergeant Rutledge . Portions of the film were shot in Monument Valley, along the Arizona-Utah border. Although Aug 1959 HR news items add Edward Shaw the cast, his appearance in the film has not been confirmed. The CBCS mistakenly credits Shaw as "Chris Hubble," a role played by Jan Stine. Other actors added to the cast by contemporary HR news items are Dan Borzage, Byron Hightower, Gertrude Astor and Dorothy Phillips, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
       After the Civil War, four all-black units, the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry, played a major role in developing the Western frontier. The Native Americans who faced these men in battle called them "buffalo" soldiers, in honor of their fighting spirit, as well as the buffalo coats and hats they wore. After seeing combat in World War II, the 9th and 10th Cavalry were deactivated in 1944. At that time, the 25th Infantry was also scattered, although the 24th Infantry survived to do battle in Korea. The all-black units ceased to exist when the Army desegregated in the early 1950s.
       In interviews published by modern sources, producer/writer Willis Goldbeck credited director John Ford with much of the screenplay's construction, including the film's courtroom setting. Modern sources also state that Ford was paid $300,000 for his work on the film. Numerous film scholars have stated that Sergeant Rutledge marked an important step in the evolution of racial consciousness in Ford's films, as it is his only film to ... More Less

The film's working titles were Captain Buffalo and The Trial of Sergeant Rutledge . Portions of the film were shot in Monument Valley, along the Arizona-Utah border. Although Aug 1959 HR news items add Edward Shaw the cast, his appearance in the film has not been confirmed. The CBCS mistakenly credits Shaw as "Chris Hubble," a role played by Jan Stine. Other actors added to the cast by contemporary HR news items are Dan Borzage, Byron Hightower, Gertrude Astor and Dorothy Phillips, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
       After the Civil War, four all-black units, the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry, played a major role in developing the Western frontier. The Native Americans who faced these men in battle called them "buffalo" soldiers, in honor of their fighting spirit, as well as the buffalo coats and hats they wore. After seeing combat in World War II, the 9th and 10th Cavalry were deactivated in 1944. At that time, the 25th Infantry was also scattered, although the 24th Infantry survived to do battle in Korea. The all-black units ceased to exist when the Army desegregated in the early 1950s.
       In interviews published by modern sources, producer/writer Willis Goldbeck credited director John Ford with much of the screenplay's construction, including the film's courtroom setting. Modern sources also state that Ford was paid $300,000 for his work on the film. Numerous film scholars have stated that Sergeant Rutledge marked an important step in the evolution of racial consciousness in Ford's films, as it is his only film to feature an African-American protagonist. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Apr 1960.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1959.
---
Daily Variety
8 Apr 60
p. 3.
Harrison's Reports
16 Apr 60
p. 64.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 1959
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 59
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 1959
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 1959
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 1959
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1959
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 59
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 1960.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 60
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
24 Apr 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Apr 60
p. 652.
New York Times
26 May 60
p. 37.
The Exhibitor
13 Apr 60
pp. 4694-95.
Variety
13 Apr 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
John Ford's Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Props
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
SOURCES
SONGS
"Captain Buffalo," words by Mack David, music by Jerry Livingston.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Captain Buffalo
The Trial of Sergeant Rutledge
Release Date:
28 May 1960
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 25 May 1960
Production Date:
mid July--early September 1959
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
28 May 1960
Copyright Number:
LP20182
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
111
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19413
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the summer of 1881, a young woman named Lucy Dabney and her father, Maj. Dabney, are found dead in their quarters at Fort Linton in the Arizona Territory. Lt. Tom Cantrell arrives at the U.S. Army's southwestern headquarters to defend the accused, a black sergeant named Braxton Rutledge, who served bravely under Cantrell in the all-black Ninth Cavalry for over six years. Because Lucy was raped and beaten before her brutal strangulation, the case attracts a group of spectators, who harass Rutledge as he is led into the courtroom. Presiding over the court-martial is Col. Otis Thornton Fosgate. After Fosgate ejects the onlookers from the room, angering his fluttery wife Cordelia, prosecutor Capt. Shattuck questions a series of witnesses, who describe the events that occurred on the day of the murders. Mary Beecher relates how she returned to Arizona on that day after an absence of twelve years. Because her father failed to meet her at the train station, she found herself alone. Upon discovering the station master's lifeless body, she became utterly terrified. Rutledge then suddenly appeared and defended her from two attacking Indians who, along with a larger group of Mescaleros, had broken out of the San Rosario Reservation earlier in the day. Cordelia then tells the court that she saw Rutledge tumble from Dabney's quarters after hearing two shots fired. Earlier in the day, Cordelia had told Lucy that even though Rutledge had been the girl's friend and riding instructor for years, it was unseemly for her to speak with him. As the fort doctor and then Tom himself take the witness stand, the court learns that Rutledge, ... +


In the summer of 1881, a young woman named Lucy Dabney and her father, Maj. Dabney, are found dead in their quarters at Fort Linton in the Arizona Territory. Lt. Tom Cantrell arrives at the U.S. Army's southwestern headquarters to defend the accused, a black sergeant named Braxton Rutledge, who served bravely under Cantrell in the all-black Ninth Cavalry for over six years. Because Lucy was raped and beaten before her brutal strangulation, the case attracts a group of spectators, who harass Rutledge as he is led into the courtroom. Presiding over the court-martial is Col. Otis Thornton Fosgate. After Fosgate ejects the onlookers from the room, angering his fluttery wife Cordelia, prosecutor Capt. Shattuck questions a series of witnesses, who describe the events that occurred on the day of the murders. Mary Beecher relates how she returned to Arizona on that day after an absence of twelve years. Because her father failed to meet her at the train station, she found herself alone. Upon discovering the station master's lifeless body, she became utterly terrified. Rutledge then suddenly appeared and defended her from two attacking Indians who, along with a larger group of Mescaleros, had broken out of the San Rosario Reservation earlier in the day. Cordelia then tells the court that she saw Rutledge tumble from Dabney's quarters after hearing two shots fired. Earlier in the day, Cordelia had told Lucy that even though Rutledge had been the girl's friend and riding instructor for years, it was unseemly for her to speak with him. As the fort doctor and then Tom himself take the witness stand, the court learns that Rutledge, arriving at Dabney's to warn the major of the Apache breakout, found Lucy's body, but was forced to shoot the major in self-defense when Dabney, entering the room, wildly fired on him. Convinced that no one would believe a black man's story, Rutledge then fled in a panic to the train station, where he aided Mary. Tom, leading a detachment of Ninth Cavalry soldiers, followed and arrested Rutledge, then proceeded toward the Beecher ranch in pursuit of the Apaches. On the way, they discovered the body of young Chris Hubble, who had been killed by an Apache lance. During a subsequent skirmish with the Apaches, Rutledge escaped, but as he approached the Beecher ranch, he realized that the patrol was riding into an Apache ambush. After warning the soldiers, he commanded them during the battle, only to be taken back into custody afterward. Following Rutledge's testimony, Shattuck declares that the sergeant's heroic actions were intended merely to earn him the court's mercy, whereupon Rutledge protests that the Ninth Cavalry is his home and the source of his self-respect. Next, Mary testifies that after the battle, Tom found young Lucy's gold cross as well as a jacket marked "CH" on the body of a dead Apache. Tom presents these items as evidence that Chris was the murderer. Shattuck angrily accuses Tom of attempting to pin the crime on a dead white boy merely to salvage the life of a black. Chandler Hubble, Chris's father, then admits under oath that his deceased son committed the crimes. Realizing that the jacket was too large for young Chris, Tom accuses the elder Hubble of the murders, whereupon Hubble confesses. Following Rutledge's acquittal, Mary and Tom are united, and the sergeant again leads his proud soldiers. +

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

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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.