Sergeant Rutledge

Watch Sergeant Rutledge

"Forget all the suspense you have ever seen! Forget all the excitement you have ever known!"
  • Approved
  • 1960
  • 1 hr 51 min
  • 7.4  (5,300)

Sergeant Rutledge is a Western drama film released in 1960, directed by John Ford and starring Jeffrey Hunter, Woody Strode, and Constance Towers. The film is set in post-Civil War America, where a black cavalry soldier, Sergeant Braxton Rutledge, is accused of raping and murdering a white woman and killing her father. The film opens with a military court-martial where Rutledge is standing trial, accused of the crimes. The prosecutor is Lieutenant Tom Cantrell, played by Hunter, who believes that Rutledge is guilty and wants to see him hanged. However, Rutledge maintains his innocence, claiming that he was framed for the crime. As the trial progresses, the evidence against Rutledge appears to be mounting, and it seems unlikely that he will be acquitted.

As the story unfolds, flashbacks reveal the events leading up to the crime, including an attack on a stagecoach by a group of Indian warriors. Sgt. Rutledge, with the help of his fellow cavalrymen, successfully repels the attack and saves the lives of several passengers, including the white woman he is accused of raping and murdering. However, when the group returns to their fort, they find that the woman's father has been killed, and Rutledge is accused of the crimes.

The film challenges the racial prejudices of the time by highlighting the historical struggle of black soldiers in the American West. At the time, the US Army was one of the few places where African Americans could find work, but they were seen as lower in rank and status than their white counterparts. The film confronts these issues head-on, showing how black soldiers were often subjected to extra scrutiny and overzealous prosecution in courts-martial.

Moreover, the film also explores the themes of heroism, duty, and loyalty among soldiers. As the trial progresses, Rutledge must confront his own values and come to terms with what it means to be a soldier and a human being. His commanding officer, Lt. Col. Otis T. Fosgate, played by Strode, also plays a critical role in defending him against the fraudulent charges, despite knowing that it may harm his own career.

While Sergeant Rutledge is a Western film, it breaks from the traditional genre by focusing on a black protagonist and confronting issues of racism and prejudice head-on. The movie was praised for its bravery in tackling these issues and received critical acclaim upon its release. Although the film did not perform well at the box office, over the years, it has been recognized as a groundbreaking classic and a testament to the legendary director John Ford's visionary storytelling.

Sergeant Rutledge is a 1960 western with a runtime of 1 hour and 51 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.4.

Sergeant Rutledge
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 51 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (5,300)