Sergeant Rutledge (1960) - Rotten Tomatoes

Sergeant Rutledge (1960)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Sergeant Rutledge Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Sergeant Braxton Rutledge (Woody Strode) is a black soldier in a unit commanded by whites and fighting the Apache Indians. He is accused of killing the 9th Cavalry's commanding officer and raping and murdering the officer's daughter. Assuming he won't get a fair trial, Rutledge flees and is apprehended by Lieutenant Cantrell (Jeffrey Hunter). Cantrell later defends Rutledge when he is convinced he is innocent. Mary (Constance Towers) is the only sympathetic witness, having been saved from an Apache ambush previously by the brave Sergeant. The story begins in the courtroom, but events are recalled in flashback scenes. The prosecuting attorney (Carlton Young) questions the accused with vindictive cruelty before the military review board that seems all too ready to condemn the prisoner. Film produced by John Ford.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Western, Drama, Classics
Written By: Willis Goldbeck, James Warner Bellah
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 6, 2006
Warner Bros. Pictures


Woody Strode
as Sgt. Braxton Rutledg...
Jeffrey Hunter
as Lt. Tom Cantrell
Constance Towers
as Mary Beecher
Billie Burke
as Mrs. Cordelia Fosgat...
Juano Hernandez
as Sgt. Matthew Luke Sk...
Willis B. Bouchey
as Col. Otis Fosgate
Carleton Young
as Capt. Shattuck
Judson Pratt
as Lt. Mulqueen
Bill Henry
as Capt. Dwyer
William Henry
as Capt. Dwyer
Walter Reed
as Capt. MacAfee
Chuck Hayward
as Capt. Dickinson
Mae Marsh
as Nellie
Fred Libby
as Chandler Hubble
Charles Seel
as Dr. C.J. Eckner
Toby Richards
as Lucy Dabney
Jan Styne
as Chris Hubble
Cliff Lyons
as Sam Beecher
Jack Pennick
as Sergeant
Estelle Winwood
as Spectator
Eva Novak
as Spectator
Shug Fisher
as Mr. Owens
Jan Stine
as Chris Hubble
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Sergeant Rutledge

Critic Reviews for Sergeant Rutledge

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Extraordinary Western works at all levels, as rousing story telling, visual beauty and Civil Rights drama.

Full Review… | April 1, 2013
Classic Film and Television

Noted as the first major Hollywood western to feature an African-American hero.

Full Review… | September 21, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Sergeant Rutledge

now i know where Mel Brooks got idea 4 colored sheriff in 'blazing saddles' this is 1st major western to feature a black lead character

Great courtroom drama with the action unfolding in a manner most fitting. Woody Strode excels here as the title character with lots of social commentary on the Civil Rights movement of the time this film was made. I got chills when the soldiers sing about Captain Buffalo during one scene.

John Ford made some of the best Western movies ever made, but every once in a while he had to try to make a political statement in his movies. in 1959 and 1960 the country was in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement so old John Ford decided to make a movie about it. Only he set it in the Old West to take some of the edge off it. The story is about a black soldier accused of raping and murdering a white girl. As usual with a John Ford Western the heros are 20th Century characters transplanted into the 19th Century. Jeffery Hunter plays an Army lieutenant who is both the defense attorney and the commanding officer of Sergeant Rutledge. His attitude is not that of a 19th Century soldier but a 1960's liberal. Sergeant Rutledge is a member of the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers. He is accused of killing a superior officer and raping and murdering a white girl. As a Western it's good. It's set during the Apache Wars. There are some good fights with renegade Apaches. As a crime drama and a court room drama it's little weak. The original story was set in post World War II Germany not the Old West. In the Old West if a black man so much as looked at a white woman he'd be lynched. There would be no trial. As for the trial itself the procedures were all wrong. The trial was just a dramatic device to tell the story in flashback. Also the murder of a civilian would have been in a civilian court not a military courts martial. He did kill the superior officer which would have been handled in a military court but he wouldn't have been defended by combat officer and he would still have been punished even if it had been self defense. Then in the end there is a court room confession by the real killer like a Perry Mason story. The Sergeant is then restored to his former rank as if nothing had happened.

Sergeant Rutledge Quotes

– Submitted by David B (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Thomas Y (4 years ago)

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