Director: Ken Olin
Genre(s): Adventure, Drama, Western
Runtime: 111 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Would you have the courage to defy an order from a superior that you considered immoral? That is the dilemma presented in the 1995 made-for-HBO adventure-drama In Pursuit of Honor. During the 1930s, the American cavalry is phasing out horses in favor of vehicles, and several American servicemen run off with horses targeted for mass-extermination by the higher-ups. This is an inspiring story of men of conscience fighting against the odds to do what they believe is right.
When describing In Pursuit of Honor, it’s probably best to just say that it’s a good story that’s told well. It’s not an action extravaganza, but there are a few nice moments of that sort of stuff. Characters (mainly the “good guys”) aren’t always as clearly defined as I would’ve hoped, but it certainly doesn’t sink the picture. Douglas MacArthur (played by James Sikking) is, more or less, the villain of the piece, giving the order to massacre the horses. However, even his portrayal here is not entirely unsympathetic, as he articulates his desire to see the United States prepared for war with the rising fascist states of the time.
There is a minor controversy over whether the events depicted in the film are a true story. The opening insists they are, but, with the exception of the suppression of the Bonus Army (a large group of World War I veterans who marched on Washington, D.C., during the Great Depression to demand benefits they were promised) at the very beginning, the story appears to be completely made up. I don’t hold this against the movie, since flicks are based on fictional stories all the time. However, if you’re a stickler for historical accuracy, pass this one by.
Fictional or not, In Pursuit of Honor shows that fighting for what’s right isn’t always as easy as following somebody’s orders. It’s a well-paced drama (with western elements) that animal lovers should want to check out. Okay, there’s some scenes that show simulated fatal violence against horses, but, if you can stand that, this one is recommended. Its message of standing up to immoral authority is still relevant.
My rating is 7 outta 10.