A retiring cavalry officer encounters fierce resistance from the united tribes on his final patrol and must find a way to prevent a costly war before he leaves the service.
John Ford and John Wayne made many classic westerns together, but this – the opening chapter of their “cavalry trilogy” – is not one of the better examples. That is not to say that it is without merit; Wayne’s portrayal of a world weary retiree is far more subtle than the self-parody he would become in later years and he strikes up an amusing buddy partnership with boozy sergeant Victor McLaglen. But it shows none of the scope of their best work; the plot is little more than a series of sorties on horseback and there is little attention paid to the characters and motivations of their enemies. In fact the one scene in which Wayne parlays with one of the tribal chiefs is embarrassingly forced.
Having said all that, it only suffers in comparison to Ford’s other films, some of which are classics of the genre. Judged on its own merits, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon is a solid enough – if somewhat comparatively unambitious and generic – horse opera.