What does this film, about the court-martial of a black cavalryman who is accused of rape and murder of a white woman, tell us about justice, fairness, and bigotry in the post-bellum U.S. Army? What message does John Ford wish to send his audience of 1960? Does he presage elements of the looming civil rights battles of that decade? Does he intend to show us that the military led the way in regard to integrating black Americans?

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