Keep ‘Em Rolling (1934)
This is a story of a man and his horse;-)
Walter Huston plays a somewhat wild Sergeant in the pre-World War I cavalry. He gets busted down to Private after yet another drunken brawl. Shortly thereafter a new wild horse gets brought to the base and Huston has found a kindred soul. He works tirelessly to train the horse something only he could do and is so consumed with the task that he stops drinking and lets Sergeant Tom Randall a former peer of his court his girlfriend.
Six months later Private Huston and his horse “Rodney” so named by his commanding officer Deane’s (Frank Conroy) daughter are the best team in the regiment. Later Corporal Huston is promoted to Sergeant when he & Rodney lead their team to the base championship which involves dragging a cannon to a place to fire and then back again. Rodney is then assigned to higher duty by Sgt. Tom whose had limited success with Huston’s former gal. However if Huston will fix things between Tom and the woman his friend will let Rodney stay with Huston. Huston tries but fails and then war is declared and everyone is sent to the fight.
When Tom is killed in battle Rodney and Huston must make it to the front themselves in order to keep the Germans from crossing a river. They succeed but Rodney is injured. The Commander (John Hamilton Perry White from TV’s Superman) then orders the injured horse shot. When Huston pleads with him explaining the circumstances Rodney is spared. Later both Huston and his horse are decorated as heros.
After the war Huston decides to stay in the service with Rodney. However when Rodney is later condemned out of the cavalry he agrees to a demotion to Private again so that he can stay with his horse. He and Rodney are then transferred to Army HQ. Years later after almost 30 years of service Huston is the old codger among young recruits regaling them with old war stories. However after 18 years of service Rodney is again condemned. This time it’s by an efficiency expert Major Parker who just happens to be engaged to Colonel Deane’s daughter (Frances Dee) the one that named Rodney.
*** SPOILERS ***
After considering putting Rodney down himself and even digging a grave for him just outside of Arlington National Cemetery Huston decides instead to go AWOL with his horse. However they are later tracked down and caught. Huston is then saved from Leavenworth by that same efficiency expert who has learned from his fiance that the Army should care about longevity of service. Sending that message the film ends with Huston and Rodney being honorably “retired”.