Only the Valiant (1951): Gregory Peck’s Western

The other western which Gregory Peck made in the early 1950s, this one against his will, was Only the Valiant, a low-budget movie, which Peck disliked the script and would later label as the low point of his career.

Peck’s non-exclusive contract with David O. Selznick permitted Selznick to loan him out to other studios, and Selznick sold his services to Warner for this movie, after running into financial difficulties.

The movie’s plot is common and familiar: “an unpopular strict leader assembles together a rag-tag group of men and leads them on an extremely dangerous mission, turning them into a well-oiled fighting machine by the end and earning respect along the way.

In this variation of the plot, Peck portrays a U.S. army captain and the mission is to protect an undermanned army fort against the attacking Apache.

The romantic interest of Peck in the movie was lesser-known, troubled Barbara Payton.

Variety’s review said “In this cavalry yarn … great pains have been exerted to provide interesting characters. Peck makes the most of a colorful role.”

Only the Valiant did fair business at the box office, earning $5.7 million in receipts, ranking 35th for the year of 1951.

This little-remembered picture is not even included in most film guides, although Peck’s acting is still regarded as professionalĀ  and impressive.