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Fort Apache (1948)

Approved | | Western | 14 June 1948 (Brazil)
At Fort Apache, an honorable and veteran war captain finds conflict when his regime is placed under the command of a young, glory hungry lieutenant colonel with no respect for the local Indian tribe.

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(screenplay), (suggested by the story "Massacre")
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Sgt. Beaufort (as Pedro Armendariz)
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Jack Pennick ...
Ray Hyke ...
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Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

John Ford's Masterpiece of the Frontier!

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

14 June 1948 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

War Party  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ben Johnson, who plays Sgt. Tyree in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Trooper Tyree in Rio Grande (1950), also appears in this film, though not as an actor. A former rodeo rider described as "the best horseman in Hollywood", Johnson was Henry Fonda's stunt double in this movie. See more »

Goofs

During the dance in the Sergeants Mess, when the dancers are coming round in front of the camera in fours, one of the dancers curtsies, but none of the other women do this. They had already done so in a previous shot and obviously the woman must have been confused. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Captain Yorke: Forward by fours - Ho!
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Connections

Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

O Dem Golden Slippers
(uncredited)
Written by James Allen Bland
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An entertaining western with plenty of value in the characters, writing and commentary
25 May 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Owen Thursday is hardly impressed when his new command is the desolate Fort Apache, but resolves to make the best of it. When a group of Indians strike out from the local reserve led by warrior Cochise, Thursday sees the challenge as being key in winning back the military honour he feels has been denied him to date. However Captain York persuades him to allow York to go into Mexico to talk peace and convincing him to return to the US to broker a resolution – but will Thursday's obsession with honour and glory cause a bloodier ending? Interweaving this central plot with romantic and comic subplots makes a standard western into a much better one, even if it sometimes causes it to feel a bit slow. The story concerns an outlying post and the first half of the film lays down the characters, their relationships and who they are in ways that are interesting and produces a mix of funny moments and rather slower dramatic moments – all of them work as well as one another and it enriches the final section of the film. It is in this final third of the film where the action starts and it is rather dramatic and exciting; it also brings out a lot more of the subtext about the arrogant leadership of Thursday, based on the character traits that we have already had developed in him in regards his men and his daughter. It is made to look easy but the script does it well and even finishes with Ford's oft-touched assertion that the legend was often printed in favour of the less impressive truth – although it still has a salute to the serving men.

The cast are all pretty strong, although naturally the script favours the men, although having said that Temple is quite good if you can get past her "precious princess" performance. Fonda has the main role and manages to make his character convincing and arrogant at the same time – we never hate him so much as just see his failings. Wayne has a straighter role to play and he is as good as ever with it, although it is hardly the most challenging character I've seen him play. Agar is a bit stilted and unsure of himself – unsurprisingly his chemistry is good with Temple (they were married at the time) but it is the other parts where he appears overshadowed by the stronger male actors. Support is roundly good, particularly in the comic roles as filled by Bond, McLagen and some of the other NCO's. Direction is good, although I felt that the landscapes were "there" rather than being integrated into the fabric of the film.

Overall this is a worthy film. Perhaps not the best of the ford films but still an intelligent film that delivers the goods just like a standard western would, while also having good writing in the characters and subtexts. The cast are mainly good and the whole film feels professional and entertaining.


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