I caught most of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
again this morning:
I won't rehash my numerous writings on the film but one thing I noticed at the very end when Nathan and Tyree return to the fort after Tyree has gone in search of Brittles to give him the telegram that appoints Nathan to Lt. Col, Head of Scouts, was that as Nathan leaves the dance to go give his "report", Flint and Olivia join the dancing while Ross Pennell stands with his back to the partygoers and stands watch as if waiting til Nathan returns.
The movie makes a point of wanting us to believe that Tyree is the spiritual heir and Flint Cohill is the natural successor to Nathan Brittles and Ross Pennell just can't measure up.
But the shot of Pennell with his back turned, in a traditional, understated manner so typical of Ford that it goes almost unnoticed, indicates that Pennell will measure up and will grow to be a man that can fill Brittle's boots and be the leader he was. He, perhaps even more than Tyree and Flint Cohill, seems to understand at that moment the loneliness (despite his Army family and his friendship with Quincannon) and necessary sacrifice that is at the heart of Nathan's character.
With the juxtaposition, we see Flint and Olivia and Mac and Abby dancing indicating that Flint will become more like Mac, the traditional Army guy to whom wife and family matters, while Brittles, Tyree and Pennell signal the men who make the necessary sacrifices, including a happy personal life, to move the country forward.
I do have to admit, after the end, I thought, "oh good, I get to hear what Ben M has to say" and only then did I realize I wasn't watching the channel I thought I was but was watching Retroplex instead.