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Sergeant Rutledge is a 1960 American Technicolor Western film directed by John Ford and starring Jeffrey Hunter, Constance Towers, Woody Strode and Billie Burke. The title was also used for the novelization published in the same year. Six decades later, the film continues to attract attention because it was one of the first mainstream films in the U.S. to treat racism frankly and to give a starring role to an African-American actor. In 2017, film critic Richard Brody observed that "The greatest American political filmmaker, John Ford, relentlessly dramatized, in his Westerns, the mental and historical distortions arising from the country’s violent origins—including its legacy of racism, which he confronted throughout his career, nowhere more radically than in Sergeant Rutledge."
|James Warner Bellah
John Ford Productions
The film starred Strode as Sergeant Rutledge, a black first sergeant in a colored regiment of the United States Cavalry. At a U.S. Army fort in the early 1880s, he is being tried by a court-martial for the rape and murder of a white girl as well as for the murder of the girl's father, who was the commanding officer of the fort. The story of these events is recounted through several flashbacks.
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