North South Divide
At Fort Union tensions between the men from the North and those from the South are already high with Lt. Jed Sayre (Audie Murphy - Gunsmoke) doing his best to control things as the acting commanding officer. But he relinquishes his command to Capt. Lee Whitlock (Robert Sterling - Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) on his arrival who learning that Jed is friendly with the Navajo Indians orders him to terminate any friendship due to his complete hatred of the Native Americans. But there is some foul goings on as the discovery of a dead prospector leads Whitlock to suspect the Navajo of being behind it and Jed trying to prevent war starting against the Indians.
If you are an honorary member of the Audie Murphy fan club then "Column South" will be an entertaining western with Murphy playing an easy to like good guy. But if you are not bothered by Murphy then "Column South" is just a general Cavalry/ Indian movie with lots of cliches. For me I like Audie Murphy movies but can see that this 1953 western is just a generic one with Murphy delivering that smiling good guy character he used in quite a few westerns.
I mentioned generic as it is very clear right from the word go that with the arrival of the racist Whitlock to the fort there will be Indian trouble and that means are Indian sympathizer Jed will somehow have to stop all out war between the Cavalry and Navajo. That not only means some fighting but of course Jed uncovering the truth which involves some political machinations to stir things up. As I said it is all very obvious and whilst the outline of the movie which includes the tension between the North and South it has no depth what so ever. In fact the only other thing it has is an obvious romantic subplot involving Jed and Marcy, Whitlock's sister which provides the entertainment by being a love hate relationship.
But whilst "Column South" is only a typical western and lacks depth it is still an entertaining western with some nice location shots, some nice action and some nice drama. As I said right at the start, if you are a fan of Audie Murphy it will be enjoyable despite not offering anything different from the norm. And that is not just the performances from Murphy as all the performances be it Robert Sterling as Whitlock or Joan Evans as his sister are just ordinary.
What this all boils down to is that "Column South" whilst having an interesting premise ends up just a routine western with Audie Murphy delivering a very typical good guy performance. But that is it and sadly is in some ways a waste of a good idea for a western.