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Nov 28, 2018

The Last Outpost aka Cavalry Charge is the quintessential (although certainly not the best) "Civil War Western", a staple mid-century genre which performed yeoman ideological work on a pair of dubious fronts: 1. Doubling down (often literally, by offering up equally likable brothers on either side of the conflict) on the "revisionist" take on the "War Between The States" that dominated the historiography from the 1920s into the early 1960s; and 2. painting the "unsettled" western frontier as the staging ground for a post-bellum American "reunification" through genocidal race war against the region's rightful inhabitants.

The Gipper delivers a terrific performance as Capt. Vance Britten, a character whose psychological underpinnings are so vile that they cannot even be acknowledged by the film. He's a dashing Baltimorean who has crossed over to the Rebels as "a matter of principle". What principle? Well, it's not defending his state, obviously, since Maryland remained within the Union. Guess what that leaves? You have to guess, because this screenplay doesn't come anywhere near mentioning slavery. It does, however, wear its white supremacist heart on its blue and gray sleeves when it fabricates a ridiculous pretext (out of whole cloth) for a temporary North/South alliance against righteously enraged Apache warriors.
This is our earliest Pine-Thomas Reagan, and here we find the original template for the now-famous Fruit Company Gunboat Charge which furnished the climax of Tropic Zone. And it's our last chance to see friend of the show Rhonda Fleming. 
Pretty much forgotten (and nigh impossible to find) today, this movie was a big hit for Paramount in 1951, and was so fondly remembered that it was mustered out of mothballs ten years later in an effort to capitalize upon the Civil War's centenary. Enjoy! 
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"Driving Reagan theme' by Gareth Hedges