Friday, 24 August 2012

40 Guns to Apache Pass (Audie Murphy)

The final round up of films July and August until the bank holiday weekend begins with the last film of the most decorated USA soldier in World War II Audie Murphy. Still a boy when he was sent to Europe for 27 months he was awarded the Medal Honour, the Croix de Guerre, the Legion de Honour, Silver and Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, Presidential Citation and several others. A private soldier in 1942 he rose to the rank of First Lieutenant in 1946 and then to major in the Army Reserves, a rank he retained when he was officially retired in 1969.

Born in 1924 to poor sharecroppers of Irish descent he is one of twelve children who went to work at 14 leaving school when his father abandoned his family. He was responsible for the three youngest children being placed in an orphanage to ensure their care but took direct care again immediately on his discharge from the army in 1945. He suffered depression, insomnia and nightmares from his experiences which led him to campaign for understanding and treatment, especially for those returning from Korea. The effects of war affected his relationship with him married three times and two children.

In addition to his career with over forty films he owned several ranches and wrote country music. He wrote an important biography From Hell to Eternity, staring in the film. His last film 40 Guns to Apache Pass was a standard Western of the era. In this film Murphy plays a hard nosed young commander who beats up a Corporal for stealing water while out on patrol. News reaches the fort Apache Wells that the Apache
s under Cochise are massing and on the war path and heading towards the fort.

The Fort commander has pressed the army for the new repeating riffles and learns that an assignment of forty of these weapons with ammunition is being brought to them but only part way to Apache Pass and Murphy is assigned to take a small group to bring them to the fort. The party includes the man he humiliated who is seeking revenge and two young lads whose father has been killed both inexperienced and one pressurised against his natural instincts into joining up by his elder brother. They are left in charge of the horses while the rest of the team collect the guns during which time the brother is captured and then killed despite pleas for help to the younger brother who afraid lies low.

The guns are collected but the soldier humiliated by Murphy persuades the rest of the group to take the guns and sell them in Mexico. Murphy escapes with his life just. He returns in disgrace to the Fort a failure but then breaks out from being confined in order to locate the guns and rescue the fort.

The coward younger brother turns to help Murphy when he finds that the guns are to be sold for gold to the Apache. Murphy sends the young lad back to the fort with the majority of the weapons for help while he uses some of them to hold off the Apache for as long as possible after tackling the rogue troop. He is rescued and returns to the fort and reinstated. He is also able to keep part of his promise to the sister of the young man to get him home, without revealing what occurred beforehand. Their previously blossoming relationship can now flourish.

Audie Murphy died in a plane crash at the age of 46 in 1971. Two years earlier he had survived a charge of murder with the jury accepting his plea of self defence.


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