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The Bravos 1972
Description: The commander of an isolated frontier cavalry post tries to stop an Indian fight and search his son, who has been kidnapped.
Released: 09 Jan 1972 Director: Ted Post Writers: Christopher Knopf (teleplay), David Victor (story), Douglas Benton (story), Christopher Knopf (story) Actors: George Peppard, Pernell Roberts, Belinda Montgomery, L.Q. Jones Genres: Western
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The Bravos Reviews:

Not a terrible film: an interesting-looking fort, nice scenery, L Q Jones gets some decent screen-time and there's no contrived love interest (just a bit of on-off-on romance between two youngsters in the wagon train). But Peppard's persona is a bit too genial for a disciplinarian CO of an undermanned garrison; it was a bit of a shock when, after it has been surprised by the Indians, he puts enlisted boys on 18 hours of duty a day and officers on 24 (for three days); not a nice concept when there's meant to be 2,000 hostiles threatening 70 just soldiers. We don't receive to see many of the 2,000, and the rescue bid (which, thankfully, doesn't descend into the A-team heroics that Peppard came to be identified with) seems to involve taking on just four or five of them. Funny title: I understand "bravos" to be hired ruffians or killers, and none of the protagonists fill this description. Even the fugitive from justice isn't really a terrible guy.


"Hang'em High" director Ted Post's made-for-TV cavalry vs the Indians western "The Bravos" qualifies as a traditional but formulaic horse opera. This predictable outdoors epic benefits from its sturdy cast, particularly L.Q. Jones, Pernell Roberts, John Kellogg, and Bo Svenson, as well as "Journey to Shiloh" cinematographer Enzo A. Martinelli's crisp zone lensing around Sedona, Arizona which substitutes splendidly for Fresh Mexico. You won't see anything here that you haven't seen before in a nice John Ford cavalry yarn, indeed one of the subplots in "Cimarron Strip" scribe Christopher Knopf's screenplay appears to be a slight reworking of Ford's John Wayne oater "Rio Grande."Handsome George Peppard, with graying temples, plays the grim fort commandant who serves as the only law and security for 500 miles. He has his gauntlets full of trouble. He has only seventy-seven units under his command and they are holed up in a fort with decaying walls, a shortage of ammunition, with thousands of Indians concealed behind a number of mountain ridges that lie without view of their walls. No, Major John David Harkness isn't satisfied about this predicament and things predictably grow worse for him as this 97-minute dust-raiser unfolds. The large trouble here is not with the lack of action, but with the lack of drama. Our stalwart cavalry commander has to deal with a bloodthirsty Kiowa fighter chieftain, an obnoxious wagon train leader who enjoys shooting Indians in the back, and his rebellious son who has been expelled from a Fresh England boarding school and hates his guts because he doesn't think that he loves him. Meanwhile, Harkness has to contend with his own ill-disciplined units and fellow officers who have issues following his orders. About the only thing mercifully missing from his sagebrusher is a love interest for Peppard.The action opens at sunrise with a troop of blue-coated U.S. Cavalry riding into mountainous country to find for Indians. They search a Navajo village, but only an old dying squaw and her dog are around when the cavalry rides in for an inspection. They do search an units coat with a lance thrust through it in a sand painting. Major Harkness wants to know more about these deserted villages, and he persuades his chief scout Ben Lawler (L.Q. Jones of "The Wild Bunch") with a bit of arm-twisting to reconnoiter out the country and learn what has happened to the Navajos. Initially, Lawler had no intention of scouting. He plans to head out to greener pastures, but Harkness confiscates Lawler's units mount to hold the seasoned scout from leaving the fort. Harkness also forbids the camp supply clerk to sell him provisions. Reluctantly, Lawler gives in to Harkness' request and leaves the fort on expedition duty.Meanwhile, a band of young Kiowa braves attack a wagon train of immigrants under the supervision of Jackson Buckley (Pernell Roberts of TV's "Bonanza") who is determined to see his settlers reach their destination. Buckley negotiates a deal with the braves who only wish a horse in exchange for leaving the wagon train alone. The settlers give them a horse. When the braves take the horse, the treacherous Buckley picks them off from behind with his rifle. One of the members of the wagon train is a suspicious, unshaven German, Raeder (Bo Svenson of "North Dallas 40"), who is nice with a knife and keeps to himself. He has a shady past that plays a part in the story. The two settlers who receive their share of screen time are twenty-somethings, Heller Chase (Belinda Montgomery of "Miami Vice") and Garratt (Barry Brown of "Piranha") who have left St. Louis to create a fresh life for themselves. Heller decides leave the wagon train and strike out on her own to search the fort. She runs into Raeder but he sends her back to the train. Raeder collapses before he reaches the fort, but Harkness spots him from the stockade wall. Harkness and his boys ride out and escort Buckley's wagon train back to the fort.Harkness provides them with supplies and manpower to mend their wagons, but he orders Buckley to take them back to St. Louis. Buckley refuses. Lawler finds Heller passed out on the prairie with ice on her eyes and brings her to fort. No sooner has the cavalry gotten the wagon train of pioneers inside the fort than Santanta (Joaquin Martinez of "Joe Kidd") arrives with a tiny units of Kiowas. Lawler informs Harkness that Santanta is out to recruit the Navajos and if he manages to pick up the 2000 Navajos in the mountains, Harkness and company won't stand a possibility vs their superior numbers. Eventually, Harkness' son Peter (Vincent Van Patten) arrives at the fort and nothing that Harkness tries wins him any sympathy from his son. Santanta's braves attack the fort. During the attack, the Indians sneak into the fort and abduct Peter and take him to a high peak where they keep him as hostage. Santanta vows to slay Peter if Harkness doesn't surrender Buckley to him."The Bravos" boasts first-rate production values. There are no surprises in this familiar clash of wills both inside and outside of the fort.


George Peppard stars in The Bravos a cavalry western where Peppard is a captain in charge of a badly located fort some weather beaten units and a wagon train that has taken refuge in his post out of necessity. It seems as though they have a martinet of a wagon-master in Pernell Roberts who went and shot a Kiowa chief's son and actually he wants protection. The Kiowas wish Roberts and to insure they receive him they take Vincent Van Patten testing Peppard's son who is visiting.The Bravos is a routine cavalry western to be sure. Some of the themes however should have used a more poetical director. Coming to mind instantly is Rio Grande where John Ford gets the most out of scenes involving Claude Jarman, Jr. with his parents John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Would that Ford been directing Peppard and Van Patten.Pernell Roberts between his tv series Bonanza and Trapper John, MD. played a lot of villains. His arrogant wagon-master is someone you love to hate and is the highlight of the film.This one is OK for western fans.



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