Springfield Rifle (1952) Poster

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7/10
An entertaining Civil War Western!
Nazi_Fighter_David9 January 2000
Warning: Spoilers
André De Toth found his niche in Westerns... He directed "Man in the Saddle," "Last of the Comanches," "The Stranger Wore a Gun," and "The Indian Fighter" with his cautious, distinguished way, and intelligent skill..

With a nice musical score by Max Steiner, his "Springfield Rifle" projects imagination and suspense...

Major 'Lex' Kearney (Gary Cooper), a Union officer, masterminds a counter-espionage scheme to undercover a gang of renegades who continually have top-secret informations regarding shipments of horses to the Confederacy... Cooper joins the confederates as a spy to unmask the traitor...

Phyllis Thaxter was effective in her small role as the wondering astonished wife (Erin) suffering with her son (Michael Chapin) who can't accept or understand the fact that his father was cashiered from the army for cowardice...

Lon Chaney, Jr. as a villain, and Philip Carey, as the valiant officer, contribute to the tense and violent atmosphere of the motion picture...

Filmed in Technicolor, "Sprinfield Rifle" follows Fred Zinnemann's great Western "High Noon," and is basically a pretty entertaining routine Civil War Western...
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8/10
Very enjoyable and underrated
TheLittleSongbird21 October 2011
I saw this film as I like films like this and I admire the cast. In most aspects this film delivered. The title is misleading I agree and I personally would've liked Springfield Rifle to have been 5 or so minutes longer. However, while it is not an exceptional movie it is a very good and enjoyable one, and I also think underrated.

Springfield Rifle is a very well made film, I loved the scenery and the cinematography is beautiful. It also has strong direction, a rousing music score from Max Steiner that compliments the film perfectly, a good story with an interesting structure and themes and sharp dialogue.

Good pacing is also at hand, and the cast are great. Gary Cooper has done better work perhaps, but still gives an engaging performance. Lon Chaney Jnr likewise, and Phyllis Thaxter and Paul Kelly are excellent. Overall, a very enjoyable movie. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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7/10
Great direction & cinematography
FtValleyPS10 July 2008
I agree the movie is an underrated western, it reminds one of John Ford movies, and the direction is great. Some of the acting and direction, e.g. when Col. Hudson figures out Lex is an agent, is really good, as well as other scenes with very subtly fine direction. What also occurs to me is that much of the cinematography in this film is pretty near fantastic. While the setting in Lone Pine, California is nice and makes the filming a little easier in that regard, the lighting and camera work are exceptional, including early and late day shots, and even for the average shots on the set, e.g. around the fort, lighting, etc. Some of the action shots are pretty darned amazing, too, including the running herds of horses. I noticed a mix of saddle horses, mules and draft horses in the herd, which I think lends some authenticity to the film.
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6/10
Finding the Inside Man
bkoganbing18 August 2006
Springfield Rifle is the film Gary Cooper made after his much acclaimed performance in High Noon. Not that it's a bad film, but a fairly routine western which even kind of gives away who the inside man is way too early in the film. It would have been better had their been more suspense.

Gary Cooper goes undercover to find a ring of rustlers who are working in cahoots with the Confederacy during the Civil War, stealing horses meant for the Union cavalry.

To do this he gets himself courtmartialed and drummed out of the army. And he gets the full Chuck Connors treatment, that Connors received on his series Branded. This enables Cooper to join the renegades led by David Brian and Lon Chaney, Jr.

Things do get complicated when Coop's wife, Phyllis Thaxter, shows up to tell him about their son who has run away. Her concern nearly derails the mission and her husband.

Some good western action is in Springfield Rifle, a couple of pitched battles with the renegades and Cooper finally uncovering the inside man in the rustling ring.

Three good performances besides the players mentioned are Guinn Williams as the sergeant who saves Cooper from a hangman, Paul Kelly as the post commander, and Philip Carey as a rival officer to Cooper on the post.

Springfield Rifle is good action entertainment for those who like their westerns action filled.
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7/10
4 out of 5 action rating
scheelj119 November 2012
See it- This is a diamond in the rough. It is relatively unknown but a must-see for Gary Cooper fans. Cooper plays his usual character of a man on a mission to redeem himself, but this is not a typical western. Exciting from start to finish, it's the story of the inception of counterintelligence used by the Union in the Civil War. It is not necessarily James Bond with a cowboy hat. It is still very much a western, and a refreshingly good Civil War movie for a change. Movie buffs will also get a kick out of a young Fess Parker. Full of twists and lots of battle scenes, it's a good old-fashioned, fun movie. 4 action rating
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Expect the unexpected
dbdumonteil1 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"Springfield rifle" is a western but it's not your usual average western.Its screenplay could be that of a spy thriller ,for it is primarily a story of spies ,of undercover agents.First thing you have got to bear in mind ,if you want to appreciate De Toth's movie ,is "don't rely too much on appearances ".Things are not what they seem indeed and the audience ,till the last third ,does not know who they can trust.De Toth was not apparently interested in the female character relegated to a position of secondary importance ,even with the moments of the plot which deal with her (and Cooper's ) son:this boy is expected to appear but all his adventures are verbally told (he only appears in the last scene).Just as the director does not tell us the story of two officers' hatred (which was what the audience expected ).Just as in De Toth's 1959 "Day of the outlaw" the "violent " dance and the chase in the snow were completely unexpected.
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8/10
enjoyable western, about spying during the civil war.
tmwest5 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
1952 was a great year for westerns. Besides "High Noon" there was "Hangman's Knot", one of Randolph Scott's best, "Bend of the River", "Viva Zapata", "Rancho Notorious" and so many others. And there was "Springfield Rifle" with an unusual story about spying during the civil war. Cooper is Major Kearney, an officer for the Union, even though he was born in Virginia. He refuses to fight the enemy when they steal the horses they are taking, because they are outnumbered. He is dishonored and branded a coward. There is no end to his humiliation. As it turns out he is really a spy going undercover to find out who is the spy in the Union, responsible for stealing the horses and sending them to the Confederates. He does not tell his wife about it, so she ends up spoiling everything. He should have known better, you don't hide such a secret from your wife!!! The film also shows the Springfield Rifle, which had a new system for loading and gave a superiority to the men using it. This was one of the best westerns directed by De Toth.
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7/10
Thrilling chronicle of espionage and counter-espionage during the American Civil War decently directed by Andre De Toth
ma-cortes14 July 2016
Good Western with frantic action , thrills , fights , crossfire , wonderful outdoors , all of them keep things lively . Major Lex Kearny (Gary Cooper) is degraded and consequently considered a treacherous , as he becomes the North's first counterespionage agent , as he attempts to discover who's behind the theft of Union cavalry horses in Colorado during the Civil War . Falling in with the band of Jayhawkers (Lon Chaney Jr. , Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams , among others) and Confederate soldiers who have been leading the raids , he gradually gains their trust to uncover their plans and reveal the routes of the horse shipments . But then , it appears his wife , Erin Kearney , (Phyllis Thaxter) and things go awry . At the end the good boys take the Springfield Rifles , ¨The Gun That Made One Man The Equal Of Five¨.

Based on the real-life of Major Les Kearney who joined forces with outlaws to catch the thieves stealing Union horses . This exciting picture tells the story of an upright officer wrongly degraded , dishonorably discharged from the army for cowardice , being finely played by the great Gary Cooper who gives a perfect acting in his usual stoic style . And being released the same year as Gary Cooper's most famous Western , High Noon (1952), which also starred Lon Chaney Jr. in a secondary role . It contains noisy action , shootouts , a climatic confrontation on the final , twists and turns ; being breathtakingly photographed in WarnerColor . Interesting as well as stirring screenplay Charles Marquis Warren and Frank Davis , based on a story by Sloan Nibley .

This undemanding western is plenty of suspense as the dreaded final attack approaches and the protagonist realizes he must stand alone against impossible odds and nobody is willing to help him but he is accused as a traitor , while he attempts to clear his name as a wrongfully accused soldier . This enjoyable tale is almost rudimentary though full of clichés , a good guy comes to narration is almost adjusted in real time from the starring is degraded , subsequently detained , imprisoned , escaped , until the ending take on , when he is besieged by the bad boys . Nice supporting actors largely hang around waiting for something to do , and with plenty of familiar faces , such as : Paul Kelly , David Brian , Philip Carey , Fess Parker , Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams , Lon Chaney Jr., Alan Hale Jr. , Richard Hale , Martin Milner and James Brown . Colorful cinematography by Edwin DuPair , being shot on location at attitudes of up 9500 feet on the slopes of California's Mount Whitney . Furthermore , a moving and agreeable musical score by the classical composer Max Steiner .

This typical Western was professionally directed by Andre De Toth . At his beginnings De Toth entered the Hungarian film industry, obtaining work as a writer, editor , second unit director and actor before finally becoming a director. He directed a few films just before the outbreak of WW II, when he fled to England . Alexander Korda gave him a job there, and when De Toth emigrated to the US in 1942 , Korda got him a job as a second unit director on Jungle Book (1942) . Andre De Toth was a classical director , Western usual (Indian fighter, Man in the saddle , Ramrod , Last of Comanches , The stranger wore a gun), but also made Peplum (Gold for the Caesar) and adventure (The Mongols , Morgan the pirate , Tanganyika) . Probably his best known film is House of wax (1953), a Vincent Price horror film shot in 3D . Springfield Rifle rating : 6.5/10 , decent and acceptable Western , well worth watching .
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8/10
Forget the title - it's Union vs Confederate cavalry in the West !
padutchland-119 November 2006
I've heard it said that the Springfield Rifle was Warner Brothers answer to Winchester 73. That sounds plausible to me as the only reason to title the movie Springfield Rifle. Use of the rifle came in at the end of the movie but had very little to do with the rest of the film. At least in Wincester 73, Jimmy Stewart and others kept crossing the path of the titled rifle. Winchester was a better movie all around. Still, Springfield Rifle is well worth seeing if you are a fan, like me, of the old Westerns of the 1950s. In this one, Gary Cooper gets himself dishonorably discharged from the US Army for running from the enemy. I'm not going to tell you the why, who or how of it as I don't want to spoil any of the plot for you. Some things I can mention is that Coop is hired by the horse thieves who are outsmarting the military at every turn. His idea is to get the goods on who is doing the stealing and tipping off the "bad guys." He learns that they are in cahoots with the Confederate Cavalry to deny horses to the Union troops. Enough said on that count so that you can enjoy the movie without knowing what is coming up. Cast wise it was an interesting mix with some old hands to add their know-how. Coop was his usual self but he was showing his age and health at about 51 years old. This came out later, the same year as High Noon and he was starting to look a little rough in that too. But High Noon was his comeback picture after declining from his peak years. In Springfield Rifle, Phyllis Thaxter played the role she was usually saddled with, the wife of the male star. She did a good job with a role that didn't have much meat on it. You may remember her playing the wife of Glen Ford and adopted mother of the first Christopher Reeve Superman. I remember her outstanding job as Van Johnson's wife in 30 Seconds Over Tokyo. In Springfield Rifle she spills the beans and gets several people killed, but everyone is kind enough not to mention it. David Brian was smooth as a leader of the rustlers and Philip Carey was his usual self as a Union captain openly hostile to Cooper's part as Lex Kearney. Carey played his part well as you would never guess that.... oops, you will have to watch it to find out. Paul Kelly was the CO of the fort and added his long time experience as a supporting actor to the story. Did you know he spent 2 years in San Quentin for beating someone to death? Wow! Anyway, that brings us to a couple of interesting parts. One of the "jayhawkers" was played by Lon Chaney, Jr. He did an admirable job as always and the poor guy never seemed to get the roles he deserved. He was always in his father's shadow. One of the Confederate soldiers I knew instantly. Who wouldn't know him if you were a fan of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. Yep, Fess Parker himself was a member of the CSA band who were buying the horses and assisting the jay-hawker horse rustlers. He had a few speaking parts in it and was likable even as a horse thief. This is another sad case of someone being denied better parts. Poor Fess had a hard time breaking the type casting as Davy Crockett and later as Daniel Boone on TV. Guess sometimes you can do too good of a job. It was also nice to see the familiar faces of Guinn "Big Boy Williams, Alan Hale, Jr. (Skipper from Gilligan), Martin Milner (Route 66, Kent Family Chronicles) and James Brown (Lt. Rip Masters of Rin Tin Tin). Kearney's son was played by Michael Chapin and although he didn't make it big in show biz, you may remember his sister Lauren as Kitten on Father Knows Best. For a movie that didn't really become a classic, it was fun to watch and loaded many actors whose talent was never fully utilized by the studios. I don't think the movie won any major awards, and frankly shouldn't have. Still, it is great 1950's shoot-em-up cavalry action and worth the time to watch. If you get the chance, and you like Westerns, be sure to enjoy it.
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7/10
Chaney steals the show, but it is a sad role for the former leading man
cinemadave15 July 2008
The fight scene between Gary Cooper and Lon Chaney Junior has a sad conclusion. It is supposed to be funny, given the musical score, but climax is a sad reflection of Lon Chaney Junior's career.

Seven years before "Springfield Rifle," Chaney Jr. was a leading man for Universal studios. In this film, he is a bumbling villain who gets beat up by Gary Cooper's hero. Chaney's Pete Elm garners more sympathy as a tragic hero when the last shot of "Springfield Rifle" is fired.

"Springfield Rifle" is a grand movie with an involving story. After his Oscar win earlier in the year (costarring Chaney Jr. again), "Springfield Rifle" is a worthy follow up.
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9/10
"When they said Kearny had disgraced his woman...THAT'S WHEN HE REACHED FOR HIS RIFLE"!
TankGuy11 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
During the American Civil War, a band of raiders led by rancher Austin McCool(David BRIAN)and his brutal right hand man Pete Elm(LON CHANEY JR),lead relentless attacks on shipments of horses being driven to railheads by the Union army for the benefit of their men fighting in the east. The raiders then sell the captured horses to the Confederacy. Major Lex Kearny(GARY COOPER)is dishonourably discharged after surrendering his herd to the raiders without firing a single shot.However,this is merely a ruse to enable Kearny to infiltrate the raiders and smash the ring. Kearny's real mission is to adopt counterespionage tactics in order to smoke out the insider providing McCool with information on the routes of the horse drives.

Fresh out of Will Kane's boots in the immortal HIGH NOON(released just 3 months prior to this film),Gary Cooper acquits himself superbly in the lead as the Major who sacrifices his reputation and integrity for the Union, despite being a southerner. David Brian is terrific as the snarling leader of the raiders.Gruff,tough,robust Lon Chaney Jr was even better as his cruel associate. Western veterans Phillip Carey and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams also turned in impressive performances.

As with other B westerns of the 1950s,the action sequences were shot with restraint, but extremely rip roaring and enjoyable nonetheless. The extended fistfight between Kearny and Elm was awesome and chilled me with intensity. The ear shattering, all-guns-blazing skirmish between the Soldiers and the raiders was fantastic with excellent stuntwork.The shots of men firing their pistols and rifles on horseback were amazing. This sequence was made even more effective by the Wilhelm Scream being crammed into the heat of the action, we hear it as one of the raiders is stabbed by a Soldier. The final battle between Kearny's men and the raiders was just as thrilling with spectacular shots of the prairie being set ablaze and frenzied horses charging up a hill as the raiders are blasted with shots from the brand new Springfield rifles. This sequence is followed by a brief but exhilarating horseback chase which results in Kearny catching the inside man.I would give the action scenes 4 stars. The camera-work was incredible with awe striking shots of rugged snow capped mountains, arid deserts, craggy rocks and herds of horses trudging through the sand and snow. The sequence in which Kearny is commandeering an army wagon containing the new Springfield Carbines and rocks cripple one of it's wheels causing the team of horses to break away from the wagon which causes it to crash down a hill was brilliantly shot. The script is excellent and is something different from the usual western formula. The Civil war setting gave the writers the chance to do much more with the story. I wouldn't go as far to say the film is a "James Bond out west" but the script is rich in intrigue and contains strong elements of espionage thriller. The storyline keeps you guessing and the identity of the inside man is quite a shock.

I'd just like to note that the title is rather misleading. It makes one expect a film similar to that of WINCHESTER 73(1950),thus giving the viewer the impression that the film is the story of the deployment and use of the single shot Springfield Carbine during the early days of the American west, this is not strictly true. The rifle is not used until the climatic battle and is only mentioned briefly throughout the course of the film. It serves merely as a plot device. My theory is that the writers set out to make a film about the Springfield rifle but became more concerned with an espionage spy story and forgot about the rifle premise, therefore having no choice but to jam it in at the end of the film. This doesn't bother me though, SPRINGFIELD RIFLE is a taut, edge-of-your-seat Civil war thriller with rollicking action scenes, stupendous camera-work and finger biting intensity. Expertly helmed by Andre de Toth who made many a great western, this is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. It deserves to be seen on a flatscreen TV with loudspeakers and the volume cranked all the way up to the maximum.9/10.
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7/10
A simple and very familiar sort of story that is well-told and worth seeing.
MartinHafer16 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Tonight I watched "Springfield Rifle" for the third time in my life--but it's the first time in over 25 years. The reason I wanted to see it again was to see if the movie was as enjoyable as I remembered.

The film is set during the US Civil War and takes place out West in Colorado. Soon after the movie's start, an officer (Gary Cooper) makes a questionable decision in the face of the enemy and orders his men to run and abandon their horses. As a result, there is a court martial and he's thrown out of the Cavalry for cowardice. Afterwords, Cooper shows a lot of anger and contempt for his old unit and he gets himself arrested. However, he and two Confederate sympathizers escape jail and make towards a band of thugs who work for the South--stealing horses as well as raiding Union supplies and attacking the men.

Now it's VERY obvious to anyone who's seen lots of westerns that Cooper is actually working under cover to infiltrate this band of irregulars (i.e., non-military men who fight). This is western movie plot #3--and it's been repeated many, many times--by the likes of Tim McCoy, Randolph Scott, Roy Rogers and many others. Can the film use an old and familiar plot and make it interesting? Well, yes. Cooper was quite good and the rest were fine, as it had a nice ensemble cast of excellent supporting actors (such as David Brian, Lon Chaney, Jr., Guinn Williams and Paul Kelly). However, the big star was the GORGEOUS color cinematography which really made a B-movie plot look into a solid A-picture.

So is it a great film? Nah...but it certainly is enjoyable and fun--plus there are a few unexpected angles that manage to punch up an otherwise ordinary plot. Sometimes you don't need an earth-shattering plot--just a well-made film that manages to entertain--and this one sure does.
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9/10
The Counterfeit Copperhead
deanofrpps26 February 2004
The Springfield Rifle is a fantastic counterespionage story. Sent to the Confederates as a Counterfeit Traitor, Major Lex Kearney (Gary Cooper) penetrates the horse thief ring to uncover the identity of the confederate ring leader. The simple plan is complicated when Major Kearney's son enlists to make good his father's apparent misdeeds and Major's contact is killed. Will the good Major successfully ex-filtrate and prevent the Confederacy from launching its last offensive?

Although the title is deceiving, as rifles have comparatively little to do with the story, the plot is fast moving and the tension increases incrementally with each new disaster.

The film favorably compares to John Ford's great cavalry trilogy and many of the techniques of Rio Grande seem to have been successfully repeated.
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10/10
One of my favorite westerns
dfcurran15 March 2000
This terrific movie is one of the most underrated westerns of all time. One problem is the title. The movie has little to do with the Springfield rifle, and more to do with one man's triumph over the odds when literally everyone is against him. This is RS at his best.
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6/10
Mixed bag in Cooper led espionage Oater.
Spikeopath23 March 2010
Depending on what reviews you read of course, Springfield Rifle is either a slowly paced pot boiler or an action packed suspenser. Such is the diversity of this form of the arts, you could easily favour one or the other and nobody could really argue with you. The truth is that André De Toth's film wants to be both, but with an almost dizzying plot and a misleading title, it winds up being an over ambitious picture that doesn't quite pay off on its promise.

Gary Cooper stars as Maj. Alex 'Lex' Kearney who gets himself cashiered from the army on a charge of cowardice in order to go undercover to break up a Confederate ring who are stealing horses during the civil war. But Kearney is not the only spy at work so his mission is a touch more complicated than at first thought. Not only that but he is so deep undercover his wife and son believe him to be a real coward and have therefore ostracised him. Oh and the new and war changing Springfield Rifle will have a part to play in the shenanigans.

Released in the same year as Cooper was wowing genre fans in High Noon, De Toth's movie does actually feel like an attempt to cash in on the big mans star appeal. However, it should be noted that executives at Warner Brothers didn't want Cooper to play the role, fearing his wholesome image just wouldn't suit a role involving cowardice and double dallying for both parties in the war. De Toth stood by his guns and was rewarded, to my mind, by a film saving performance from Cooper. Frank Davis and Charles Marquis Warren adapt from a story written by Sloan Nibley (who is noted in the genre for his numerous work on Roy Rogers scripts), Max Steiner provides the score and Edwin B. DuPar photographs out of Lone Pine and Warner Ranch in California. The film is not shot in Technicolor {as stated by some reviewers}, it was shot in the Warnercolor process. With the result somewhat pleasing on the eye, notably the uniforms of the soldiers and the flame engulfed sequence towards the finale.

The support cast are fair to middling. Lon Chaney Jr. is sadly a shadow of his former self, tho a good old dust up with Cooper raises the temperature. Phyllis Thaxter, David Brian, Paul Kelly & Philip Carey file in and say their lines. While Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams & Alan Hale Jr. deserved more screen time than they actually got. With surprises in the plot and Cooper adding some quality, Springfield Rifle is entertaining enough. But ultimately it ends up being a modest genre piece that really should have been much much better. 6/10
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" No Man is really what he appears to be, that is until he's dead "
thinker169120 July 2011
The dates of the civil War stem from 1861 to 1865. In between, half a million men fought and died on both sides. Then Hollywood introduced the Western and then writers quickly retold the history depicting the many facets within the ranks of the two opposing camps. Here is one such story which if you don't look too closely, is interesting and confusing at the same time. The movie is called " Springfield Rifle " and stars one of the most enduring actors to filled the Silver Screen. Gary Cooper plays Maj. Alex 'Lex' Kearney a Union Officer who is cashiered out of the U. S. Army and branded a traitor. The audience however understands his cover as he joins the renegade outlaws who have been stealing herds of horses for the Confederacy. With danger threatening him on both sides, Kearney walks a tight-wire as he seeks out the ringleader of the outlaws. The movie is a cat-and-mouse game and Cooper is aptly supported with other notable western stars like. David Brian, Paul Kelly, Lon Chaney Jr. Alan Hale Jr. and Martin Milner as Pvt. Larsen. The entire cast assembles to provide real shoot-em-up action with the new Springfield Rifle and plenty of hair-raising excitement. Excellent western fare. ****
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de toth's humor
zeeeyedoctor23 December 2002
andre de toth was a remarkable jewel in hollywood....perhaps possessing the most relentlessly savage humor of anyone in the history of that town....any movie he ever got his hands on were almost obsessive in his pursuit to put in his sharp jabs to the eye and ear....and springfield rifle is no exception....forget the plot and sit back and enjoy Cooper doing what he did best...being himself with that real western accent that only somebody who has spent more time on a horse than he should have owns.....and then get ready for a couple of de toth's unique moments.....the first coming when Cooper is talking to David Brian after stealing the horse out from under Lon Chaney Jr. and Chaney comes riding up sees Cooper and knocks him to the ground=====without mind you even a look by Brian over in Cooper's direction, but just giving Chaney a slightly narrorer pair of eyes as he kind of snarls....Pete i thought i told you never to ride a horse like that....................no other director in the history of hollywood ever ignored Cooper or their stories hero so gloriously.....and in film after film by De Toth, from House of Wax to Ramrod you get these moments..... but done so fast and laconically that you have to keep a sharp eye or they go right past you.............
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8/10
Good Action Western with Coop in Top Form
zardoz-1319 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Gary Cooper heads a stalwart cast in "Day of the Outlaw" director André De Toth's western "The Springfield Rifle" set on the frontier during the American Civil War. The Union Army needs horses to launch its offensive, but Confederate spies out west are stealing those horses. Desperately, the Yankees want to thwart this Southern espionage with counter-espionage of their own, but high-ranking Federal officials insist that spying is not honorable and refuse to go toe-to-toe with the South with spies. Major Lex Kearney (Gary Cooper of "High Noon") is bringing in a herd of horses when he spots superior numbers of horses thieves. Reluctantly, Lex decides to let the rustlers have the horses, and he is cashiered from the service. After he has a yellow streak painted down his back and his escorted from the army fort, our hero launches his own counter-espionage effort and discovers that the spy who has been stealing their horses is a high-ranking official that nobody would have suspected. Meantime, Lex infiltrates the rustlers and gains their confidence. "Gunsmoke" creator Charles Marquis Warren penned the screenplay that is thoroughly routine, but entertaining nonsense. Cooper is in top form, and the mountainous scenery provides a scenic background for all the hard riding and shooting. David Brian makes a good villain, too!
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7/10
"Kind of used to giving orders, aren't you?"
classicsoncall26 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
So I'm watching the movie, and with the title in mind, I'm wondering what connection the story line had to an actual Springfield Rifle. You think maybe the film makers threw that in as an afterthought, presumably to capitalize on Jimmy Stewart's success with "Winchester '73"? That's what I've read anyway, and that might explain things. One thing for sure, after hearing it repeated a number of times, I think we all get the business about the rifle being effective on a ratio of five men to one.

Now if you've ever seen Chuck Connors in "Branded", the early scene of Lex Kearney (Gary Cooper) being courtmartialed and drummed out of the army for cowardice and gross neglect of duty will look familiar. What was unusual though was seeing him painted with a yellow stripe down his back! Did they really do that? Anyway, that's a pretty good set up for Kearney's turn as a counterintelligence officer for the Union Army once things get going.

You know, there was a very cool move that I'm willing to bet was unintentional during the battle with McCool's (David Brian) outlaw bunch. During the fight, Pete Elm (Lon Chaney) shoots Captain Tennick (Philip Carey), and because Tennick's horse was on a bit of a hilly incline, when the horse buckled, he fell on top of Tennick and rolled right over him! I bet they couldn't reproduce that scene in a million years again without hurting man or horse. I had to rewind that part a couple of times just to marvel at it again. There's another interesting point to made of that sequence as well. After the fight was over, Kearney has more greasepaint on his face than when he started!

Well be that as it may, the main point of the story had to do with establishing a counter espionage unit within the Union military, a point of contention early on when it was revealed the Confederate Army was using one during the Civil War, and it was thought beneath the dignity of the Union to do the same. I guess there's nothing like success to pave the way. In it's own little piece of the story, I guess the Springfield Rifle earned it's place in history too.
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7/10
Very solid Cooper Western.
gazzo-222 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Quite enjoyable-as the others have said, it's an obvious answer movie to 'Winchester 73', while not as good-you still can't go wrong here. Check the cast-Gary Cooper, Martin Milner(!), the skipper on Gilligan(!), Clark Kent's Mom(!) and of course, the recently departed Phillip Carey-who not to speak ill of the departed, was sort of a block of wood here-but no matter. He did his routine stuff here okay too. Oh and Fess Parker shows up too as the 'I had you in my sights once Coop' reb.

Thaxter had the token woman role, really doesn't have much to do, Cooper shows his years some but is sturdy, Paul Kelly is great as the Real Villain of the piece Col Hudson (see Spoiler Warning at start of review for more!), and of course there's the terrific scenery.

The plot-well it has Cooper going under cover to stop some Reb horse-thieves who are trying to short-circuit Yankee war-efforts East. And there's an Inside Man(Kelly!) in league w/ Lon Cheney and co. gumming things up.

This has all the great horse stunts, riding and shootouts you could ask for, to go w/ the familiar faces and great Big Sky vistas. Well worth your time.

*** outta ****
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5/10
Mr G.Cooper goes undercover and looks slightly confused....
ianlouisiana9 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
...as indeed I was as to who exactly the bad guys are and what side he is actually on."Springfield Rifle" is a Civil War cavalry picture in a sub - sub John Ford vein with a tired - looking Mr Cooper as a Union officer pretending to be a Confederate or a Confederate officer pretending to be a Union officer.One of the two anyway.It's certainly overly complicated with lots of clandestine meetings,secret codes and people being thrown into prison only to escape with slightly worrying ease the moment the fortunately slow - witted guards' attention is distracted. The eponymous firearm doesn't get a mention until 2/3rds the way through the film and by then I'd forgotten all about it. Apparently its rate of fire is five times that of all other rifles;an invaluable tool indeed and one that must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Confederates - or was it the Unionists?To tell you the truth I had lost track by then. Whichever,Mr Cooper and whatever side he was actually on triumphed,you won't be entirely surprised to hear. He is reinstated to his former rank and hundreds of thousands of Yankees and Rebs can continue to slaughter each other enthusiastically. In 1952 it was what passed for a happy ending,I guess.
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10/10
Outstanding Civil War Western
denis88827 September 2013
Gary Cooper is a real gem here, his cool, casual, collected, calm and concentrated demeanor builds a tremendous suspense. This is a classical western movie, albeit in a Civil War setting, and the theme is that of traitors, secret agents, spy circle, horse stealing and valiant conduct on a battle field. Phyllis Thaxter, Lon Chaney, Jr. ,Philip Carey and Fess Parker all play great parts here, in lavish Colorado nature, among majestic mountains, spellbinding rivers, dusty stones, great horses and huge sky. The film is a real thrill and holds tight all 90 minutes, never boring, never slow, never a dull moment. Gary Cooper shows a knack for horse riding, and his delivery is impeccable. This is a very good movie and a real gem of a genre
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6/10
Springfield Rifle
Uriah433 February 2013
Gary Cooper plays the role of "Major Lex Kearny" who is tasked with getting a desperately needed herd of horses to the Union army. On the way there he encounters a large group of raiders and rather than risk the loss of men decides to retreat and allow the raiders to have the herd. Although he was out-numbered 4 to 1, his superiors feel that he should have put up more of a fact and as a result he is tried in a court-martial for cowardice and drummed out of the service. Now,rather than divulging what happens after that and risk spoiling the movie for those who haven't seen it, I will just say that I thought that this was a good Western movie with events that don't always happen as one might expect. And while it's an entertaining film, Gary Cooper is the only actor worth mentioning as far as performances are concerned. All in all, this was a decent movie which fans of this genre will probably enjoy. Slightly above average.
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Superb Cinematography
alanrhobson25 August 2011
This is an enjoyable and underrated Western, but one aspect of it is particularly enjoyable and particularly underrated: the magnificent cinematography.

Edwin DuPar's cinematography is excellent in every respect: the framing, the colour, the texture, the lighting and the location filming. He should have been nominated for an Oscar for it, which may have led to his filming top movies. Instead, he wasn't nominated, and he spent virtually his entire career in B movies and TV episodes - a sad loss to A movies.

The film is underrated generally. Disgracefully, it doesn't even get a single star in Halliwell's Film Guide - it should have had at least one for the cinematography alone! Equally disgracefully, Edwin DuPar doesn't even get a mention in Halliwell's Who's Who in Films (at least, not in my edition).

The cast of 'Springfield Rifle' is very good, the action scenes effective, and the plot works well, by and large. Well worth watching.
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5/10
Mostly Routine Civil War Cavalry Western.
rmax3048239 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Cooper is discharged in disgrace from the U. S. Cavalry during the Civil War in order to join a band of Confederate horse raiders undercover. There follow lots of tribulations and considerable confusion.

It would be a strictly routine Western except for a few things. First, it has bankable stars, or at least one, in Gary Cooper. Second, there is some splendid horse riding on screen here -- he said, knowing absolutely nothing about horses except that they know a lot more than they're letting on. What is this "roan", anyway? Sadly missing are two outstanding horsemen. Ben Johnson was a picture of inspiration on a galloping horse, and Yakima Canutt seemed organic to the animal he rode.

"Winchester 73" came out in 1950 and it must have been a financial success because that's where this title came from -- "Springfield Rifle." It has little to do with a rifle. It's all about Cooper trying to keep his NOC status hidden, and about good-natured Confederate boys among whom are some trailer trash, and about colorful Union troopers in blue uniforms and capes with bright yellow liners, and horses and men falling downhill and rolling over and over in clouds of dust.

Phyllis Thaxter, as Cooper's wife, is in the mix somewhere but she's dispensable. In the 1940s and 50s it was believed that you needed to have a love interest in the movie. I don't know why. Maybe it was assumed that you needed to draw in the female audience who might otherwise be listening to "Craig's Other Wife". Maybe they thought it would keep the women interested in between the shootings and fist fights that kept the men tumescent.

Nice location photography by Edwin DuPar. Pedestrian direction by Andre De Toth. Philip Carey has an important supporting role. He's always reliable, a kind of second-string Charlton Heston.
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