The Guns of Fort Petticoat (1957)

Kathryn Grant and Audie Murphy in The Guns of Fort Petticoat (1957)

Murphy Mans the Women's Alamo

If you are a western fan and the monotony of the almost mass produced feel of 50s westerns grows tiresome then I have a go to movie for you, "The Guns of Fort Petticoat". Now with Audie Murphy playing a Texan Union soldier who deserts to help the South against Indian attacks it may sound like a relatively run of the mill western till I tell you that Murphy ends up getting the women of Jonesville to take up arms and defend against the attack. And with this being the handsome Murphy with variety of women we get drama, comedy and even a bit of sex appeal going on making "The Guns of Fort Petticoat" a fun western but also one which has some pretty decent action.

After allowing some Cheyenne to return to the reservation after they had broken treaty Lt. Frank Hewitt (Audie Murphy - Destry) is less than happy when Colonel Chivington (Ainslie Pryor) says they must be taught a lesson and goes on the attack. Frank is also less than happy because he knows in his hometown of Jonesville the men are all at war leaving just women and children who have no hope if the Indians attack them. Forced to desert the fort Frank heads back home to try and persuade the women to do the right thing and whilst initially opposed to him when his prediction of Indian attack comes true they rally together to create a women's army under his authority.

Audie Murphy and Patricia Tiernan in The Guns of Fort Petticoat (1957)

If you take out the element of women from the story and what "The Guns of Fort Petticoat" is is just another western about a group of people defending themselves in a mission from Indian attack. It has all the usual elements from those who don't agree with Frank, those who want to leave and those who are not fighters such as a religious person as well as someone who is rich and has a servant. Almost everything about the basic storyline is quite typical and whilst the ending is both different and better than normal how the movie plays out is not a huge surprise.

But then in modern terms you have the USP and that is the fact we have Frank leading a variety of women in defending the mission and that brings with it humour, romance and action. Now you could say some of it is typical especially when you have some women unable to hit the target with a gun but then you have the more original humour of Hannah Lacey who is as good and as strong as any three men, pushing over wagons and an expert shot. And then there is the romance which let's be honest there was plenty of romance in westerns but here we have Frank's former love still keen on him whilst Frank is keen on pretty little Anne who when they first meet she tries to kill him. With out being intentionally sexy it is quite sexy which in many ways comes down to the fact Audie Murphy and Kathryn Grant look so good together, well that and man hungry showgirl Lucy Conover joking comments about welcoming any man.

Now what is a surprise is that whilst "The Guns of Fort Petticoat" is fun and sexy it also delivers good action. Again the action is not that original but every single scene be it Frank tackling and Indian or one of the women killing an Indian who creeps up is exciting. And the action also has impact because some of the women end up dying and a child gets hurt which almost takes you aback because let's be honest women being killed and children hurt is not very 50s western.

What this all boils down to is that whilst everything about "The Guns of Fort Petticoat" is quite familiar the USP of it being Audie Murphy and a bunch of women defending a mission from Indians makes it so much more entertaining. It is like a breath of fresh air when you have watched a string of 50s westerns because it has fun, romance and plenty of excitement.