Ambush (director: Sam Wood; screenwriters: Marguerite Roberts/based on a Luke Short story; cinematographer: Harold Lipstein; editor: Ben Lewis; music: Rudolph G. Kopp; cast: Robert Taylor (Ward Kinsman), John Hodiak (Capt. Ben Lorrison), Arlene Dahl (Ann Duverall), Don Taylor (Lt. Linus Delaney), Jean Hagen (Martha Conovan), Bruce Cowling (Tom Conovan), Chief Thundercloud (Tana), Charles Stevens (Diablito), Moriarity Pat (Sergeant Mack), Leon Ames (Major Breverly); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Armand Deutsch; MGM; 1950)
“It’s a routine, talky, taut, b/w Western.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Sam Wood (“A Night at the Opera”/”Our Town”/”Goodbye, Mr. Chips”)directs his last picture. It’s a routine, talky, taut, b/w Western about the cavalry’s search for a white woman held by the Apaches in 1878, at the foot of Bailey Mountain, Arizona Territory (filmed on location at the Corriganville Ranch in Simi Valley, California). It’s based on a Luke Short story and is written byMarguerite Roberts.
Ward Kinsman (Robert Taylor) is a scruffy civilian frontier scout and prospector who is asked by Major C. E. Breverly (Leon Ames) of the U.S. Cavalry to help the troops find Mary Carlyle, the daughter of a general who was snatched during an Indian raid and who is now, if alive, probably held in Apache territory. After turning down the major’s request, Ward agrees when asked later by Ann Duverall (Arlene Dahl), Mary’s attractive sister.
Ward learns from an Indian woman that Mary is with Diablito’s (Charles Stevens) band of Indians. He reports this to Captain Ben Lorrison (John Hodiak), Ann’s sometimes sweetheart. The troops prepare to attack Diablito’s caravan. Problem is that Ward and Lorrison are enemies, and get into a fistfight over personal matters–each loves Ann. The two put aside their differences to go after the Apaches, by preparing an ambush. The ambush results in a bloody gun fight, with the troops rescuing the white woman. But Diablito escapes and Lorrison goes after him, only to be ambushed. It results in both Lorrison and Diablito being killed.
Ambush kicked up some dust because of the adultery and wife-abuse scenes (with Jean Hagen as the long-suffering vic, who is having an affair with Lt. Linus Delaney) and for Arlene Dahls revealing frontier outfits.
REVIEWED ON 4/14/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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