Only the Valiant


Capt. Richard Lance (Gregory Peck) is unjustly held responsible, by his men and his girlfriend (Barbara Payton), for an Indian massacre death of beloved Lt. Holloway. Holloway (Gig Young) is killed while escorting a dangerous Indian chief to another fort's prison. The chief escapes. Knowing their fort is in danger of Indian attack, Lance takes a small group of army misfits to an abandoned nearby army fort to defend a mountain pass against the oncoming Indian assault. Their mission is to stall for time until reinforcements from another fort arrive.

Only the Valiant also known as Fort Invincible is a 1951 in film western (genre) film produced by William Cagney (younger brother of James Cagney), directed by Gordon Douglas (director) and starring Gregory Peck and Barbara Payton. The screenplay was written by Edmund H. North and Harry Brown (writer), based on the 1943 novel of the same name by Charles Marquis Warren.


Gregory Peck, in a role he considered a low-point of his career, plays Captain Richard Lance, a by-the-book United States Military Academy graduate who is not very popular with the men under his command.
Following the American Civil War, peace is maintained in the New Mexico Territory by Fort Invicible, a fortification set up outside a mountain pass that blocks marauding bands of Apache. The Apache are able to eventually take the fort by cutting off its water supply then assault the fort when its garrison is at its weakest.
Captain Lance arrives with a patrol soon after the battle and captures Tucsos, the charismatic leader of the Apache. Lance's scout advises the Captain to kill Tucsos but Lance will not shoot a prisoner.
Back at the headquarters of the 5th Cavalry, the invalid commanding officer orders Lance to assign an officer to command an escort to take Tucsos to a larger post. Lance wishes to lead the patrol but at the last minute the Colonel says he needs Lance at his fort in case of Apache attack and to assign
a popular officer, Lieutenant Holloway, to lead the small group of men escorting Tucsos; but the Apaches will stop at nothing to get him back. Lieutenant Holloway ends up dead, and the men at the fort blame Captain Lance. They believe that his decision to assign Lieutenant Holloway to the dangerous mission was a personal one (both Lance and Holloway were vying for the affection of the same woman).
Lance's standing with the soldiers at the fort only gets worse when he assembles a group of misfit cavalrymen to hold off rampaging Indians at the ruins of Fort Invincible which is considered to be a suicide mission.


  • Gregory Peck as Captain Richard Lance
  • Barbara Payton as Cathy Eversham
  • Ward Bond as Corporal Timothy Gilchrist
  • Gig Young as Lieutenant Bill Holloway
  • Lon Chaney, Jr. as Trooper Kebussyan ("the Ay-rab")
  • Neville Brand as Sergeant Ben Murdock
  • Jeff Corey as Joe Harmony
  • Warner Anderson as Trooper Rutledge
  • Steve Brodie (actor) as Trooper Onstot
  • Dan Riss as Lieutenant Jerry Winters
  • Terry Kilburn as Trooper Saxton
  • Herbert Heyes as Colonel Drumm
  • Art Baker (actor) as Captain Jennings
  • Michael Ansara as Tucsos
  • Nana Bryant as Mrs. Drumm
  • David Clarke (actor) as guardhouse sentry (uncredited)
  • John Doucette as sergeant (uncredited)

See also

  • List of Western films: 1950-1954
  • Wiard Ihnen – production designer
  • Leah Rhodes – wardrobe
  • Yakima Canutt filmography – uncredited stunt coordinator

Further reading

  • Category:1951 films
    Category:American films
    Category:American historical films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Warner Bros. films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:Films directed by Gordon Douglas
    Category:Films set in New Mexico
    Category:1950s historical films
    Category:1950s Western (genre) films
    Category:Cavalry Western films
    William Cagney

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