The Guns of Fort Petticoat (1957)

Audie Murphy, Kathryn Grant, Hope Emerson, Jeff Donnell,
Union Army deserter, Lt. Hewitt, trains a rag tag band of all-female homesteaders to defend themselves against a Comanche tribe on the warpath.
  • 6.4 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Walter Doniger, C. William Harrison, Writer:
  • George Marshall, Director:
  • Harry Joe Brown, Producer:
7/10 / 10

Lt. Frank Hewitt absconds from the Union Army to warn fellow Texansthat Indian attacks are inevitable due to a massacre at Sand Creek.What he finds is that all the men are away fighting in the ConfederateArmy so the homesteaders are mainly made up of women. Having to firstearn their respect and trust, he convinces them to prepare for anIndian attack at a dilapidated mission station, teaching the majorityof them to shoot and fend for themselves in hand to hand combat. Badlyoutnumbered when the day comes, it will take more than the hand of godto stop this from being another massacre to further darken the South.

What an absolute blast this picture is, for sure it's steeped in Bmovie traditions, but led by the amiable Audie Murphy as Hewitt, thepicture is certainly most engaging and never lets the discerning viewerdown. Perhaps struggling to shake off the need to be overtly serious,it is none the less dramatic at times and not without serious momentsthat put the ladies of the piece firmly in a good light. It's not afeminist picture of course because the characters still need their mento be with them, Hewitt naturally creates a little pitter-patteramongst some of the women, what the picture chiefly portrays is thatthese gals can step up to the plate when required, and more crucially,the film doesn't rely on sentimentality to raise the picture's worth.

Kathryn Grant (soon to me Mrs Bing Crosby), Hope Emerson, JeanetteNolan, Peggy Maley and Patricia Tiernan are just some of the femalecast that make this a hugely enjoyable picture. From the intriguingtraining sequences as Hewitt gets tough with the gals, to the thrillingrush of the Indian attack on the mission, The Guns Of Fort Petticoat isa very enjoyable Western that most certainly doesn't waste the time ofthe viewer. 7/10

/ 10

The title of this film almost sounds like it will be a comedy.....sort oflike "F Troop" meets "Petticoat Junction". It is, however, a relativelyserious affair with some decent action sequences and some (sometimesunintentional) amusing moments. Murphy stars as a Cavalry Lieutenant whodeserts his post in order to go a warn the people of his nearby hometown ofan impending Indian attack. Unfortunately, virtually every man is gone fromthe area and the remaining women all resent him for wearing the blue insteadof the gray uniform. Once the Indians start to make their mark, the ladiesbegin to change their mind and Murphy rounds them all up in an abandonedmission, determined to convert them into soldiers for their own sake. Analready slightly campy film (check out the Indian grandma doing a child'shair at her camp right before a marauding cavalry unit appears), gets evenloonier at this point. The mere idea of women brandishing guns and fightingphysically must have been otherworldly in 1957. The enterprise is treatedwith all the expected attention and detail for the curio that it is. Murphyrefers to the ladies as "men" and appoints sergeants, etc... He drills themin target practice, hand to hand combat and skirt-tucking (turning skirtsinto makeshift pants!) Naturally, there is every type of womanimaginable.....the old love, the new love, the haughty rich bitch, the one"in trouble", the religious fanatic, the tart, etc... What gives the film agreat boost in the arm is the irascible, irreplaceable presence of burly,sarcastic Emerson as the leader of the women. Always intriguing to watch,she gets a plum role here as a bossy, tough, but good-hearted pioneer woman. It also helps that the film isn't dumb enough to suggest that this sort ofthing wouldn't lead to casualties. So the unusual aspect of seeing womenholding a fort with guns is accented and enhanced by seeing some of themtake a fall as well. This adds to the realism of a film which is, at heart,pretty trite and coy. There are some fairly tough scenes and the Indianattack is actually pretty tense. (And it's awful nice of the Indians towait and WAIT before coming until Murphy has trained all the gals, drainedthe water from the well, taught them how to make "bombs" and ammunition andsolved various other problems!) Maley as a saloon singer and Elsom as asociety matron help push the camp envelope. A few other ladies (like theone who gets upset and literally gobbles like a turkey with her face in theground) take it even further, but Nolan rips it open. She is downrightembarrassing as a devout Christian who clutches her Bible and spoutsmessages of nonviolence. However, when push comes to shove and arrows cometo necks, she has a freak-out scene that is one for the books! Even withthe pat situations and mundane dialogue, there's a certain curiosity valueto the film and scattered laughs throughout (Wade, as Elsom's maid, has areal zinger of a closing line for her character!) Grant would later becomebetter known as Mrs. Bing Crosby.

9/10 / 10

In this movie you will see many clichés attacked successfully: women &children being shot; women leading themselves without panicking orfalling over tree roots as a plot device; in-cred-ible. There are agreat many movies, books, plays and so on with a single "mutant" womanwho is somehow, amazingly, able to do "man" things as good as a man.Her uniqueness is usually used in the plot as a comic device to luremen into a false sense of security, except Alien, I guess.

This movie breaks this unspoken code: highly successfully andentertainingly.In fact it states quite blankly that all women are asgood as any man; including in the ability to fight to the death and thelast bullet.

I had to keep checking that this was made in 1957! The same year asFunny Face.

You have to put aside the 1950s production values, over-longhorse-riding long-shots, and just forget the male supporting cast(except the wonderful Audie Murphy) : they are rather clichéd;concentrate on enjoying the entire female ensemble performance: theyreally do produce an incredible performance; slightly reminiscent to meof The Big Red One.

I cannot think of another movie which has this premise of a group ofwomen fighting for their own sakes; and not needing a man to do it forthem.

/ 10

I wonder why no one who commented on this movie before noticed how thisisthe sort of scenario that made El Alamo the thrilling film it was, andthatled to so many re-makes.There is a surrounded group, with no escape, and decided not to surrendertoa bitter enemy...That this group was of women only, and that they died battling withbravery,makes me wonder where the cable televisions are, what video producer willdiscover this gem first - a gem it is, as people who saw this film onlyhadpraise for it!I'll be the first to buy a VHS or DVD copy of this film. Just tell mewhereit is.

7/10 / 10

When I first saw the movie title as a boy, I thought it might besomething almost ridiculous, but now that I've seen it my thoughts havebeen somewhat amended. The storyline is brief: during the Civil War anarmy officer (played well by the veteran western actor Audie Murphy)leads a group of women from Texas against hostile, attacking Indianswho want to destroy the old fort where the women are found. Again, Iwas ready to laugh when I saw the title, but I do not think that inreal life I would have wanted to tangle with any of these women who,led by Murphy, became practically sharpshooters. They held off Indiansand outlaws well. This cinematic piece was exciting and the actiongood, which is shown through the fact that the women were veryemotional. In one point the matter of killing is addressed, so in oneplace the movie is controversial. Because of the beautiful scenery,exciting western action, and good story, this has become a favoritewestern of mine.