According to Wikipedia:
Rio Grande (Republic, 1950), the third part of the 'Cavalry Trilogy', co-starred John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, with Wayne's son Patrick Wayne making his screen debut (he appeared in several subsequent Ford pictures including The Searchers). It was made at the insistence of Republic Pictures who demanded a profitable Western as the condition of backing Ford's next project, The Quiet Man. A testament to Ford's legendary efficiency, Rio Grande was shot in just 32 days, with only 352 takes from 335 camera setups, and it was a solid success, grossing $2.25m in its first year.Director John Ford used the movie try out Wayne and O'Hara together to see if they would work well together and the rest is history. They were magic.
The plot according to Wikipedia:
Rio Grande, Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke is posted on the Texas frontier to defend settlers against depredations of marauding Apaches. Col. Yorke is under considerable stress between the Apaches using Mexico as a sanctuary from pursuit and by a serious shortage of troops of his command.
Tension is added when Yorke's son (whom he hasn't seen in fifteen years), Trooper Jeff Yorke (Claude Jarman Jr.), is one of 18 recruits sent to the regiment. He has flunked out of West Point and immediately enlisted as a private in the Army. Not wanting to give any impression that he is showing favoritism towards his son, Col. Yorke ends up being harsher dealing with Jeff than the others. By his willingness to undergo any test and trial, Jeff is befriended by a pair of older recruits, Travis Tyree (Ben Johnson) (who is on the run from the law) and "Sandy" Boone (Harry Carey, Jr.), who take him under their wings.
With the arrival of Yorke's estranged wife, Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara), who has come to take the under-age Yorke home with her, further tension is added. During the war, Yorke had been forced by circumstances to burn Bridesdale, his wife's plantation home in the Shenandoah valley. Sgt. Quincannon (Victor McLaglen), who put the torch to Bridesdale, is still with Yorke and provides a constant reminder to Kathleen of the episode. In a showdown with his mother, Jeff refuses her attempt by reminding her that not only the commander's signature is required to discharge him, but his own as well, and he chooses to stay in the Army. The tension brought about in the struggle over their son's future (and possibly the attentions shown to her by Yorke's junior officers) rekindles the romance the couple once felt for each other.
Yorke is visited by his former Civil War commander, Philip Sheridan (J. Carrol Naish), now commanding general of his department. Sheridan has decided to order Yorke to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico in pursuit of the Apaches, an action with serious political implications since it violates the sovereignty of another nation.
The memorable quotes of the movie I love, that has relevance today, is the dialog between Lt. Col. Yorke (Wayne) and his commanding officer Lt. General Philip Sheridan (J Carrol Naish) who is inspecting Wayne's post.
Wayne has just returned to the fort after a difficult battle with the Apaches who escaped by crossing the Rio Grande river into Mexico. Gen. Phil Sheridan is waiting in Wayne's Tent.
Wayne: "Good evening sir."
Sheridan: "Have a cup of your own coffee."
Wayne: "I've been thinking of nothing else for the last two hours."
Sheridan: "Tough ha."
Wayne: "Tough Sir."
Sheridan: "I haven't had a cup of duty coffee with you since we rode down the Shenandoah together. Fifteen yours ago wasn't it?" (directer John Ford was a student of the American Civil War)
Wayne: "Fifteen years, two months and seven days."
Sheridan: "How did you fare on patrol."
Wayne: "Had a running fight for 30-odd miles. We captured Natchez their chief and eight others before the Apaches reached the Rio Grande and crossed into Mexico. Pursuant to orders I halted on our side of the river. Men didn't like it very much."
Sheridan: Neither did you. Neither do I, but that's the policy and soldiers don't make policy they merely carry it out."
Wayne: "The State Department could do something."
Sheridan: Yes, they'll write a sharp note of protest. If you care to read notes of protest."
Wayne: I'll disclaim them over the graves of the troopers who were guarding the water holes. Three of them staked face down on ant hills."
Sheridan: "You've got the dirtiest job in the army no doubt of that."
Wayne: I'm not complaining sir, I get paid for it."
Sheridan: "Maybe you should complain. I'll listen."
Wayne: This coffee isn't as good as it used to be."
Sheridan: "I'll make a note of that. Maybe someday it'll get better and stronger."
Wayne: "I'll drink to that sir... Stronger."
Folks, this is not "Dances with Wolves"
Later in the movie there is another conversation between Wayne (Yorke) and Gen. Sheridan after the Apache Indians raid the army post and kidnap a wagon full of children from the post and escape across the Rio Grande River into Mexico.
Sheridan: "Now I'll probably ruin your army career. I'm going to issue an order and give it to you personally. I want you to cross the Rio Grande. Hit the Apache and burn them out. I'm tired of hit and run. I'm sick of diplomatic hide and seek. .... be prepared to remain all winter. All next winter if necessary.
Wayne: I've waited a long time for that order sir. Which, of course I didn't hear."
Sheridan: Of course you-didn't hear. I assure you if you fail the members of your court marshal will be the men who rode with us down the Shenandoah. I'll hand pick them my self."
Sheridan: "I wonder what history will say about Shenandoah?"
Wayne: "How about a cup of coffee? You'll find it stronger!"
Did this movie make me a "Hawk" ?