Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Donahue in "Trumpet" One Long, Sour Note

Cleveland Press June 12, 1964

Warner Bros. used to field some pretty good cavalry officers back in the days when cavalry and Injun movies lured me to the neighborhood movie house for a 10-cent matinee.

Erroll Flynn and Ronald Reagan come readily to mind . When they sounded off with "Forward, at a gallop, ho!" you just knew that everything was going to be all right.

But the best the Brothers Warner can muster in 1964 is Troy Donahue, boy lieutenant. Donahue is a one-expression, lack-luster plodding and singularly uninspired actor.

HE LOOKS the same whether facing a superior officer, Indians or a woman. Certainly, any one of them should have inspired some sort of fright.

The tragedy of this film is that it could have been and should have been a far better movie. The studio had a good story (by Pulitzer Prize winning Paul Horgan) to begin with, lavished it with on-location filming in the midst of some beautiful Arizona scenery, used plenty of people for the cavalry and Indian battle sequences.

Raoul Walsh's direction slows the action down to a walk. John Twist's screenplay loads the script with cliches and predictable situations. Some 10 minutes of action which gives the film a lift is marred by a difficult - to - understand strategy and the strange propensity of two dozen Indians to dive off their horses every time the soldiers fire a volley. Never was a battle fought with such symmetry.

MORE BRIEFLY than the movie tells it, the story concerns a young officer fresh from West Point who is assigned to a run down post in Arizona where one last Indian tribe is giving the U. S. trouble.

Through the doorway of his dreary quarters steps Kitty (Suzanne Pleshette, actually Mrs. Donahue), the commanding officer's wife. She wants to bring a little beauty into his life. She offers him a potted geranium.

Later he rescues her from Indians and they spend a night in a cave. She looks at him smolderingly. He protests that all he wants in life is the Medal of Honor.

The girl to whom he's engaged (Diane McBain) arrives on the post with marriage on her mind. He'd rather fight Indians.

Diane sizes up the situation, sharpens her claws for Kitty but loses the battle for Troy. The CO is conveniently killed, Troy makes his brave way into Indian territory, to negotiate.

Almost two hours is much too long for all this.