Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Two Rode Together (1961)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Two Rode Together (1961)

In John Ford's minor western about racism and Indian-white relations, slightly similar to The Searchers (1956), and set in the 1880s in Texas, in Comanche country:

  • the opening sequence - an introduction to one of the characters - cynical, opportunistic mercenary Texas Marshal Guthrie McCabe (James Stewart), lounging comfortably on the front porch of a saloon with his feet up on the railing, as he was served a beer
  • the two characters who "rode together" - Marshal Guthrie McCabe accepted orders to join cavalry officer First Lt. Jim Gary (Richard Widmark) in relieving the grief of despondent relatives by rescuing, bringing home, and repatriating a long-lost group of white settlers who had been abducted and held captive by the Comanches; McCabe agreed for two reasons: Army pressure and the promise of a lucrative $500 payment per captive by Army Major Fraser (John McIntire), and secondarily so that he could escape marriage-minded, co-saloon-brothel owner and attractive yet coarse-talking fiancee Madam Belle Aragon (Annelle Hayes)
  • the nostalgic scene of a grieving, tomboyish settler Marty Purcell (Shirley Jones) opening a tragic keepsake - a music box - and listening to String Quintet in E Major - a possession or reminder of her abducted brother Steve who was a young 8 year-old boy when he was snatched by a Comanche raiding party; her father Judge Edward Purcell (Paul Birch) told her: "Now, Martha, stop torturing yourself. Why don't you let me have that? Let me give it away. Or better yet, destroy it"
  • the memorable 4-minute river bank sequence - a long uninterrupted, mostly-improvised take between Marshal McCabe and Lt. Gary, when the two sat down on a log, rinsed off their faces, smoked cigars, and bantered realistically about McCabe's fiancee (who carried a stiletto in her garter belt); she was hinting at matrimony by suggesting increasing his take of saloon profits: ("...she didn't see why I was satisfied with just 10 percent of her take when she was willing to go for fifty-fifty...I get 10 percent of everything in Tascosa"); McCabe argued that he was justified with the extra money since the Marshal's salary was only $100 dollars a month -- "Look at you. Jim, Jim. You're a man of simple wants. I just require a little more, that's all"
  • McCabe and Gary traded two rifles for two of the Indian captives in a deal made with Chief Quanah Parker (Henry Brandon):
    (1) 17 year-old Running Wolf (David Kent), a white boy raised as an Indian after being kidnapped 9 years earlier - later revealed to be Steve Purcell, the abducted brother of Marty - Lt. Gary's love interest and fiancee
    (2) Elena de la Madriaga (Linda Cristal), a beautiful young Mexican woman - the forced squaw named Wah-kay-nah of warring Comanche Stone Calf (Woody Strode) for five years
  • after they departed from the Indian camp, the scene of McCabe's killing of Stone Calf (in full headdress garb) who appeared at McCabe's campsite with a knife and tried to reclaim Elena
  • the ugly issue of racism exhibited by fort-dwellers, faced by the group when they returned to Fort Grant and civilization with the two released captives
  • Elena's shunning by the hypocritical white society, especially the wives who regarded her as damaged goods: ("These people, they smile at me and show their teeth, but it's the eyes that bite. I have not seen the back of anyone's head since I came here. Their eyes are all on my body like dirty fingers. As if they would turn their backs, I would leap upon them, and my touch would have to be washed off like filth. You should not have brought me here. I do not belong with these people... how could I know I would come back to this? For five years with the Comanches, my eyes never saw a tear. Now, they see the silent questions. How many braves has she known? How many mestizo children carry her blood in their veins? Now, why didn't I kill myself? I took a Comanche!")
  • a mentally-deranged, hysterical Mrs. McCandless (Jeanette Nolan) wrongly claimed that Running Wolf was her son - and after she released him from his bonds and tried to cut his braided hair ("Braid. Mama's gonna cut that off so you'll be my darling little white boy"), he stabbed her to death through the heart (off-screen)
  • in retaliation, the settlers proceeded to lynch the youth - and as the execution was about to be committed, his true heritage was revealed (he recognized his toy music box, and spoke an English word: "Mine!" - but was restrained and taken away to his death)
  • in the conclusion, McCabe was leaving to return to his Texas marshal's job, but changed his mind (he learned his position in Tascosa had been filled in his absence by his deputy); he bid farewell to Lt. Gary and Belle in the saloon and joined Elena to go to California, riding shot-gun on her stagecoach (Lt. Gary spoke to Bell about McCabe's decision in the film's final lines: Belle: "You'd think a woman with my experience would know more about men" Lt. Gary: "Yeah. Well, I guess old Guth finally found somethin' he wanted more than ten percent of")


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z