The first big budget Western to feature a black hero, this military courtroom drama from director John Ford starred his long-time stock player Woody Strode. When a cavalry commander and his daughter are discovered murdered, racism amidst the 9th Cavalry immediately leads to suspicions that Sergeant Braxton Rutledge (Strode), a black man, is responsible for the crime. Arrested by Lieutenant Tom Cantrell (Jeffrey Hunter), Rutledge escapes from captivity during an Indian raid but voluntarily returns to warn his fellow cavalrymen that they are about to face an ambush by hostiles, saving the detachment from certain doom. At first among those who accept Rutledge's probable guilt, Cantrell and his love interest Mary Beecher (Constance Towers) become two of the accused man's scarce defenders as he is put on trial and faces testimony from prejudiced "witnesses."
by Karl Williams synopsis