As the studio system began its slow decline in tandem with radical social changes occurring in the 1960s, the Golden Age of the Western genre itself was crawling to a close. Before long, the hyper virulent Westerns of Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone would take hold, while the old masters faded into the background. Before that, however, one of the great artists who helped to shape the genre would have a last hurrah in the sandbox he made his cinematic home. The legendary John Ford, having trail-blazed the Western genre for nearly forty years at this point in his career, would again revitalize his perspective in this latest decade by embracing the vital social movements of the day to shine a light on an overlooked aspect of the cowboy mythos. Woody Strode makes a singular impact as the titular sergeant standing trial for the wrongful accusation of rape and murder, fighting against a prejudiced system only a few years removed from the explosive tensions of the Civil War. This overlooked classic from Ford’s repertoire tackles the themes of racism and recognition in a time when America itself was overtly struggling with the lingering effects of conflicts recognized within this film, the same unresolved issues which have trickled into our national conversations today. Sergeant Rutledge has the same majestic vision of the West as all the other Ford classics while maintaining a modern perspective to reflect the significance of such films today. With Strode’s towering performance only overshadowed by the vistas of Monument Valley itself, this late-career Ford film is another treasured Western within his lengthy résumé.
0:00 Tea Party
1:33 Nordic Lights Film Festival
5:41 The Map of Tiny Perfect Things
12:22 David’s Documentary Discourse: Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump (2020)
22:56 Coming 2 America
31:38 David’s Documentary Discourse Pt. 2: Directed by John Ford (1971)
37:08 Sergeant Rutledge