Only the Valiant, a classic western adventure, based on a novel by Charles Marquis Warren, the film tells the story of a Cavalry officer who volunteers for a suicidal mission to fight the hostile Apaches in an effort to prove his loyalty to his men and the woman he loves.
If you want to know why I selected you? Capt. Richard Lance is a wronged man, he's being held responsible for the death of a much loved Lieutenant. When the chance arises for him to take a small band of men to the vanquished Fort Invincible, Lance readily takes up the challenge. Picking the men who despise him the most, and the ones he feels have major character flaws, Lance and the handful of soldiers must hold the fort from Apache attack until reinforcements arrive. Running out of water and at war with each other, it's becoming increasingly likely that this is a suicide mission from which none of them may return. Some people say this is one of Gregory Peck's lesser efforts, that it be low on production values and stilted in its execution. Not so say I, in fact this to me is a far more engaging picture than the much revered Rio Bravo eight years later. Oh for sure the Howard Hawks film is far technically superior, but I'd argue that for cast efforts and sheer entertainment value Only The Valiant wins out in the duel every time. Gregory Peck, Ward Bond, Gig Young, Lon Chaney Jr, Neville Brand & Warner Anderson each contribute greatly to make this a dramatic and involving picture. It simmers along as a highly charged character piece as we have a group of men deeply in mistrust of each other, yet interestingly they are bound by a mutual dislike of their Captain. One special sequence sees Lance (Peck at his straight laced best) assassinate each soldier's character; one is a bully, another a deserter, a drunk, a black heart, a coward and on he goes, and it's here where the film really kicks on to be a crackerjack character driven piece. The violence is pretty strong as well, director Gordon Douglas is not shy to put blood on the bones of the writing, and I dare you not to feel a rush of adrenaline as the Apache's start to screech prior to their wave of attacks. From watching these intriguing characters in a wonderfully tight situation, to the blood pumping Gatling Gun finale, this picture scores high on many entertaining levels. 8/10