The Seventh Calvary (Lewis, 1956)

The Seventh Calvary peaks early, with a brilliant scene where Randolph Scott’s calvary captain returns from retrieving his new bride only to find an empty relic of Manifest Destiny, a deserted fort engulfed by forest and snow peaks. Scott’s men have been slaughtered along with Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn, leaving him outcast in the eyes of his surviving superiors as a dishonorable absentee of war. It’s a haunting moment and one of the best the genre has to offer; a long glance at “civilized” man realizing his mortality in the face an unrelenting natural solitude. Unfortunately, Lewis’ film bogs down in petty bickering and melodrama, culminating in a ridiculous, almost insulting finale. I’m still not convinced of Lewis’ stature as a major director, now having been disappointed with three of his supposed “best films.”