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GUNS OF FORT PETTICOAT, THE (director: George Marshall; screenwriters: story by C. William Harrison/Walter Doniger; cinematographer: Ray Rennahan; editor: Al Clark; music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff; cast: Audie Murphy (Lt. Frank Hewitt), Kathryn Grant (Anne Martin), Hope Emerson (Hannah Lacey), Jeanette Nolan (Cora Melavan), Sean McClory (Emmett Kettle), Ainslie Pryor (Col. Chivington), Patricia Livingston (Stella Leatham); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Joe Brown; Columbia; 1957)
“Its outlandish story line never becomes believable.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Set during the Civil War in Texas in the 1860s. Indians break the treaty by going off the reservation and the narrow-minded Army Colonel Chivington orders their massacre to teach them a lesson. Lt. Frank Hewitt (Audie Murphy) deserts the fort to warn his fellow Texans of the Indians going on the warpath to seek revenge for the unprovoked attack at Sand Creek. At first not trusting Hewitt because of his Yankee uniform and calling him a turncoat, they soon learn it’s too late to run from the revenge seeking Comanches and realize to survive the attack the all women homesteaders, whose men are away fighting in the Confederate Army, must learn how to shoot. They take refuge in an abandoned mission, where Hewitt trains them to fight. While drilling his soldiers, Hewitt romances the sassy Anne Martin (Kathryn Grant). The women are given up by the snarky lone male remaining, a miner who talks his way out of being robbed by telling three bandits there’s gold in the mission. The robbers are rebuffed by the women, but when they run into an Indian raiding party on the trail rat the women out by telling them of gold in the mission. When the Indians are spotted approaching the mission, Hewitt pulls the ‘old hide on the roof trick’ to fool the Indians into thinking that the place is abandoned. The Indians kill the bandits for deceiving them but as they’re leaving, a boy accidentally fires his gun and the Indians return to attack. After staving off the attack, Hewitt voluntarily returns to be court-martialed for desertion but is found not guilty. Instead the general charges the colonel with initiating the massacre.

It’s a routine Western that is efficiently directed by George Marshall. It just never catches fire as penned by Walter Doniger despite its intriguing premise; it’s based on a story by C. William Harrison. Its outlandish story line never becomes believable, the acting from the women is strident and the battle scenes were more unintentionally comical than tense. REVIEWED ON 1/8/2006 GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”