Only the Valiant


1h 45m 1951

Brief Synopsis

Capt. Richard Lance (Gregory Peck) is unjustly held responsible, by his men & girlfriend, for an Indian massacre death of beloved Lt. Holloway. Holloway (Gig Young) is killed while escorting a dangerous Indian chief to another fort's prison. The chief escapes. Knowing their fort is in danger of Indian attack, Lance takes a small group of army misfits to an abandoned nearby army fort to defend a mountain pass against the oncoming Indian assault. Their mission is to stall for time until reinforcements from another fort arrive. The men in this small group of malcontents, deserters, psychopaths & cowards all hate Capt. Lance & wish him dead. Much to their chagrin, the men recognize that Lance's survival instincts, military knowledge & leadership are the only chance the group has of staying alive.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 21, 1951
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Apr 1951
Production Company
Cagney Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Gallup, New Mexico, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Only the Valiant by Charles Marquis Warren (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,423ft

Synopsis

In New Mexico after the Civil War, a detachment of soldiers, including Capt. Richard Lance and scout Joe Harmony, arrive at Ft. Invincible, near a narrow pass frequently used by hostile Apache Indians. The fort has been burned to the ground and its soldiers killed. Although most of the Apaches have left the area, Lance manages to capture Tucsos, the chief. Harmony wants to kill Tucsos, but Lance, who is known for his rigid adherence to military rules, insists that they take their prisoner back to Ft. Winston. After they arrive at Ft. Winston, commanding officer Col. Drumm tells Lance that he, too, wishes Tucsos had been killed because the undermanned fort will not be able to fight off an Apache rescue effort. He then orders Lance to choose an officer to head a detail that will convey Tucsos to the better defended Ft. Grant. Knowing that the detail may never get through, Lance decides to lead it himself. He then visits Cathy Eversham, a captain's daughter, with whom he is in love. When he arrives, Cathy's other admirer, Lt. Bill Holloway, is already there. After Lance tells Cathy goodbye, Holloway proposes, but she refuses him because she is in love with Lance. Holloway affectionately kisses Cathy, and Lance, who is passing by, sees the kiss. When Drumm, who is very ill, learns that Lance intends to lead the detail, he orders him to send Holloway instead because Lance is the only officer he trusts to run the fort if he becomes too sick to do it himself. After Lance delivers the new orders to Holloway, Cathy is convinced that he changed the orders to eliminate his rival. Several days later, the detail returns with Holloway's body. When Harmony reports that Holloway was tortured by the Apaches before he died, the entire fort turns against Lance, and Kebussyan, one of the survivors, tries to kill him. Harmony believes that Tucsos, who knows the fort is vulnerable, will attack soon, before reinforcements can arrive. To buy time, Lance convinces Drumm to allow him to lead a patrol to Ft. Invincible and try to hold the pass until an expected relief column of 400 soldiers arrives. For the patrol, Lance purposely picks misfits and those who hate him the most: Lt. Jerry Winters, who is dying of tuberculosis; Corp. Timothy Gilchrist, a drunk; Sgt. Ben Murdock, who hates Lance for blocking his promotion; Onstot, a deserter from the Confederate Army; Kebussyan; Harmony; Rutledge, who is motivated by revenge; and Saxton, a coward. At Ft. Invincible, Winters discovers that the cistern is dry, which means the men will have to survive on the water they carried with them. That night, the men mine the pass with dynamite. Over the next few days, several attempts are made on Lance's life. Then a mortally wounded Harmony returns to warn Lance that Tucsos has learned that there are only thirty-one men in the relief column, not the 400 who were expected. After Harmony dies, Lance tells the men that he picked them because he believed they were the most expendable and, at their request, details his reasons. While on sentry duty, Onstot and Murdock are captured, and Tucsos' men attack the fort. After the Apaches retreat, Lance sends Winters to intercept the relief column and redirect them to Ft. Invincible. As he leaves, Winters is wounded, but is able to continue. Lance then requests a meeting with Tucsos, and orders Gilchrist to set off the dynamite at his signal. Gilchrist is unable to comply because Rutledge has removed the fuse, hoping to kill Lance, and they lose the chance to destroy Tucsos. That night, during another assault, Rutledge is killed, and Kebussyan is wounded. The next morning, Lance and Kebussyan attempt to set a new fuse. Meanwhile, Tucsos, realizing how much Murdock and Onstot hate each other, decides to let them kill each other. When the Apaches discover Lance and Kebussyan in the pass, they attack them. Before he dies, Kebussyan holds off the Indians until Lance sets off the dynamite, blocking the pass almost completely. Only Lance, Gilchrist and Saxton are left alive, and they have no water. Once again, the Indians storm the fort. The situation appears to be hopeless, but just then the relief column of thirty-one soldiers arrives. The Indians turn their attack toward the new soldiers, who fire on them with a Gatling gun, which fires 350 rounds per minute. Faced with this new weapon, the Indians surrender. Tucsos manages to reach the fort, and after a struggle, Lance kills him with his own knife. When he returns to Ft. Winston, Lance learns that he has been made acting commander, as Drumm has left his post because of ill health. Later, Lance is reunited with Cathy, who now knows that he was not responsible for Holloway's death.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 21, 1951
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Apr 1951
Production Company
Cagney Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Gallup, New Mexico, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Only the Valiant by Charles Marquis Warren (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,423ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

On 29 August 1947, Los Angeles Examiner reported that James Cagney would reunite for this film with the entire cast of the 1948 picture Time of Your Life, which included William Bendix, Wayne Morris, Broderick Crawford and Jeanne Cagney, and was also produced by William Cagney. Ward Bond was the only actor from Time of Your Life who was cast in Only the Valiant. Portions of the film were shot on location in Gallup, NM.