Joe Thunderhorse, a Sioux Indian who has become the wealthy star of a Wild West show, returns home to his reservation after years away and finds that his father is dying and his people are being abused by corrupt white officials.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Chief Joe Thunderhorse
...
Lydia
Dudley Digges ...
Elihu P. Quissenberry
Claire Dodd ...
Norma
Henry O'Neill ...
J.R. Dickinson
Robert Barrat ...
Dawson
Arthur Hohl ...
Dr. Turner
...
Thomas Shanks
...
Sam
...
Sheriff Scatters
...
Jake
Wallis Clark ...
Cochran
William V. Mong ...
Grandy
DeWitt Jennings ...
Sheriff Jennings
Juliet Ware ...
Mrs. Trevor
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Storyline

Joe Thunderhorse, a Sioux Indian who has become the wealthy star of a Wild West show, returns home to his reservation after years away and finds that his father is dying and his people are being abused by corrupt white officials.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

20 January 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Masacre  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Chief Joe Thunderhorse: You used to shoot the Indian down. Now you cheat him and starve him and kill him off by dirt and disease. It's a massacre, any way you take it!
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Soundtracks

The Sun Dance
(uncredited)
Music by Leo Friedman
Played when Chief Thunderhorse is introduced
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User Reviews

 
Richard Barthelmess, Front And Center, Stars As Joe Thunderhorse in "Massacre"
13 August 2011 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

"Massacre" finally made it to TCM at 2:15 PM on August 9, 2011 as part of an all-day salute to Ann Dvorak. It may be that "Massacre" was on TCM before I started receiving the cable station in 1996, but I doubt it. As Joe Thunderhorse, a traveling show star who knows the score, Richard Barthelmess does a great job. Part of the reason for that has to the movie's director, Alan Crosland, whose career was on a downward slide at Warner Bros. For that matter, co-star Ann Dvorak was also in the Warner Bros. doghouse, in part for going on an unauthorized vacation in 1933.

On the screen, all you see are great talents making a fast moving movie that has a cynical view on life. The storyline involves a cabal of crooked Indian reservation officials who think nothing of robbing Indians of their land and covering up crimes like rape, while Indian Affairs Commissioner Dickinson in Washington, D.C. can only wring his hands until Joe Thunderhorse comes along. In my opinion, I think that director Alan Crosland is responsible for the jaded attitude towards authority you see in this movie. You see that same attitude in Crosland's great "Don Juan," a movie that also moves along at a rapid pace. So, while pabulum like "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" shows up on TCM ad nauseam, "Massacre" was MIA until this week.

Out of curiosity, I looked up movie posters for "Massacre." One of the posters I found on the Internet has in big block letters the name BARTHELMESS at the top, above a color picture of the actor wearing an Indian headdress and, running across the picture. the title "Massacre" in smaller script type letters. Within the B of Barthelmess, in very small letters, is his first name Richard. From a distance, the poster reads BARTHELMESS in Massacre. A very modern approach, everyone knew who Richard Barthelmess was in 1934, a big star, no need to advertise his first name much. Yet in a few months, after he got his walking papers from Warner Bros., his movie career went downhill fast and now, unlike actors like James Cagney and Betty Davis, almost no one remembers him.

On one of the last TCM Preservation Showcase shows he presented, Roddy McDowell (looking very pale) mentioned before the start of the movie coming on, "Midnight Alibi," that the star was the great Richard Barthelmess. To me, Barthelmess in the early 30s movies I saw him in seemed to be too serious and sometimes too much like a punching bag. That is not the case in "Massacre," where he plays his character consistently as a slick dude who won't let anyone push him around. When Harry Warner tried to cut Barthemess' contract pay in 1933, just as the studio had cut the salaries of the non-union studio workers, Barthelmess did not go along. Warner Bros. issued a press release that Barthelmess had agreed to make three movies a year instead of two for the same yearly salary, but that was window dressing. Once Darryl Zanuck handed in his resignation to protest Warner Bros. reneging on an agreement to restore studio workers' cut salaries to their former level, Barthelmess' career at Warner Bros. was kaput. His last movie at Warners, "Midnight Alibi," directed by Alan Crosland, was only 58 minutes long and looked to be filmed on a shoestring budget with Barthelmess playing out the string.

Thanks to TCM, viewers like me got a chance to see the real Richard Barthelmess in action in "Massacre."


5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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