Fort Apache is well worth seeing for a number of reasons. That Wayne and Fonda deliver stand out performances is almost a given. The direction of Ford and the amazing cinematography are worth the cost of the Blu-ray by themselves. It features Shirley Temple in one of her few adult roles. The comedic relief of the fort sergeants is as hilarious as it is unexpected. Fort Apache is at once an indictment of the military way and an endorsement of the majority of men who make service their life choice. This release is the original fullscreen black and white and features a pristine print.
Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday had a meteoric career until peace came. That could be the epitaph of many career military men over the centuries. Peace has a way of dampening things when it comes to military careers. For most professional soldiers peace is no only the goal but the thing they most want to preserve. It is the difference between Colonel Thursday --played against type with superb arrogance by Henry Fonda-- and Captain Kirby York played by John Wayne who was also cast against type for this John Ford thinly disguised reinterpretation of the Battle of Little Big Horn known as Fort Apache.
It was a rare movie indeed where Wayne appeared and was not the star. Fort Apache is just such a movie. John Wayne has billing but his role, while important to the story, is tertiary to the primary and secondary stories. The most important story is that of Colonel Thursday himself and his desire to resuscitate his career while stranded in a backwater post in what once was the Apache nation. The secondary story is that of Philadelphia Thursday (Shirley Temple), Colonel Thursday's daughter, and her beau Lieutenant Michael O'Rourke played by Temple's at the time real life husband. Wayne's role as the veteran Captain York is both the embodiment of all that is good and true in the history of the cavalry as well as the inevitable dark side of being required to follow orders even when those orders are no good.
Fort Apache Blu-ray belongs in the permanent collection of any fan of the western genre.
Special features include Commentary by F.X. Feeney and the documentary Monument Valley: John Ford Country which is also available on other Warner John Ford Blu-ray titles