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Springfield Rifle is among the quirkiest of 1950s Westerns, provocatively original in mood, plot, and characterization--but also, more or less simultaneously, a bit of a mess. Gary Cooper plays a Southern-born Union officer fighting the Civil War far from conventional battlegrounds. Somewhere out West, a band of jayhawkers is selling cavalry horses to the Yankees, then stealing them to sell again to the Confederates. After losing a herd to the raiders, Cooper is court-martialed as a coward, "copperhead," or both, then thrown into dodgy complicity with the villains responsible for his disgrace. As in his earlier Ramrod, director Andre DeToth envelops a large cast of characters in a miasma of betrayal and ambiguity, and doesn't hesitate to kill off prominent people without warning. Gunsmoke creator Charles Marquis Warren worked on the script, and the pre-Davy Crockett Fess Parker has a droll cameo as a Reb.

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WA111605 Springfield Rifle DVD (1952/Gary Cooper) $19.98 $17.99