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In John Ford's sombre exploration mythologising of American heroes, he slowly reveals the character of Owen Thursday, who sees his new posting to the desolate Fort Apache as a chance to claim the military honour which he believes is rightfully his. Arrogant, obsessed with military form and ultimately self-destructive, Thursday attempts to destroy the Apache chief Cochise after luring him across the border from Mexico, against the advice of his subordinates. Written by
Bernard Keane <BKeane2@email.dot.gov.au>
During the Grand March at the dance, the actors perform the first round (couples) leading with the dance-favored right foot. When they double up to 4s and then 8s, they are leading with the military-favored left foot. See more »
I know that many consider Red River or The Searchers to be Wayne's greatest cowboy movies, but for me, you can't get better than Fort Apache. It is the first of John Ford and John Wayne's cavalry trilogy and is the best of the lot.
I think the most interesting thing about the film is its rather sympathetic view of the American Indians--they were shown as being decent and 3-dimensional and Wayne repeatedly stressed the importance of our country keeping its word of honor to them as well. In fact, it was very funny seeing Wayne portraying the voice of reason while Henry Fonda was more of a martinet and could have cared less about honor and truth.
Along the way, these two great actors are supported by old familiars like Victor McLaglen and Ward Bond, as well as Shirley Temple and her then husband, John Agar. Despite criticism leveled towards Agar by the media over the years (and to a lesser extent, to the adult Temple), I think they did just fine in their roles and made a positive contribution to the movie.
And finally, the action and cinematography is tops. It's hard to imagine a more beautiful black and white film or one where so much care and effort was given to make a great film.
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