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She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

"Movie poster for the film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon."

© RKO

“Command” by James Warner Bellah was fist published by the Post in June of 1948 and tells the story of Capt. Nathan Brittles, who is forced to evacuate the commanding officer’s wife and their niece, Olivia Dandridge, from the fort after the fall of Custer and the 7th Cavalry. Olivia catches the eyes of two young officers, and when she starts to wear a yellow ribbon in her hair—a sign that she has a beau in the Cavalry—but refuses to reveal who she’s wearing it for, trouble ensues.

The story was adapted for the big screen in 1949 under the name She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Directed by John Ford, the film starred Joanne Dru, John Agar, Harry Carey Jr., and John Wayne as Captain Nathan Brittles. It has become one of the most popular westerns ever made, and on a $1.6 million budget, one of the most expensive. TCM’s Leonard Maltin rated it 3 and a half out of four stars.

It’s also one of Wayne’s most popular westerns, although ironically, Ford only cast John Wayne in the lead after seeing his performance in another western—and another Post original—1948’s Red River. Ribbon won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1950.

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