Two Rode Together (1961)

Two Rode Together (1961), directed by John Ford.

A bleaker, more pessimistic version of The Searchers (1956), tragic and unheroic. In the earlier film John Wayne was trying to get a captive back from the Indians because she was family (near enough), whereas James Stewart is just in it for the money, and is unnecessarily mean about it. Soldier Richard Widmark is more stalwart, but ineffectual.

It's clumsy and uninvolving. They say John Ford was in a bad mental state at the time, didn't want to do the picture and didn't like the result.

Reconsidering: it seems like a better film if you think of it as a story of how civilization collapses when the women and children are taken away. New blood for the Comanches is insanity and a type of life-in-death for the settlers. There is a dark sexual subtext: revulsion of how the women survived, titillation when hearing about it afterward. But it is still very dark: what is broken can't be fixed.

Other good features:

"White women captured by the Indians" is actually a small Western sub-genre. We also have:

Dances With Wolves might fit too, but by then we've passed into a new era of sensitivity.

Twilight Time Blu-ray.