7.6/10
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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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Writers:

(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:

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

George O'Brien, an old friend of John Ford's who had starred in his silent The Iron Horse (1924), came out of retirement to play the fort commander replaced by Henry Fonda in this story. See more »

Goofs

When Philadelphia seeks aid with getting her quarters in order, the call went out for Mrs O'Rourke, when she arrives she runs through the door followed by another woman. When the camera angle changes from the exterior to the interior only Mrs. O'Rourke is inside. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Col. Owen Thursday: Have the trumpeter sound officer's call.
RSM Michael O'Rourke: Officer's call?
Lt. Col. Owen Thursday: How long have you been in the army, O'Rourke?
RSM Michael O'Rourke: The United States army - fifteen years, sir.
Lt. Col. Owen Thursday: Then you've heard of officer's call. Have it sounded.
RSM Michael O'Rourke: Yes, sir.
RSM Michael O'Rourke: [to the bugler] Sound officer's call.
See more »

Connections

Featured in 100 Years at the Movies (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Goodnight Ladies
(uncredited)
Words by E.P. Christy
Music author unknown
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
near perfect Cavalry Western with Fonda splendidly cast against type
8 September 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In Fort Apache Henry Fonda, often the kindest but strongest of the kind figures in the movies, plays the General Custer-esquire Colonel Thursday, and John Wayne, often the one in the movies who will shoot Indians first and maybe (if he feels like it) ask questions later, plays the more level-headed/friend-of-Apache-Cochese Captain York. In any other Western the roles would be reversed, but John Ford trusted his stars as actors to not be type-casted, and particularly with Fonda he strikes some really rich ground. Part of that is in his direction (maybe some of Ford's stern and sometimes bull-headed self could identify somewhere in Thursday), but it's also Fonda being able to find certain beats or pauses or inflections that add dimension to what is a mostly stiff and unmovable Cavalry Colonel who is a gentlemen second and a military man first. Wayne is also very good here, as he often was for Ford more than any other director save for maybe Hawks, as he's more-so apart of the ensemble as opposed to a full-blown star, and there's even some subtlety where it's usually not seen by him.

The story itself is also ripe for Ford's wonderful blend of all-American warmth and critical-while-embracing of American West themes, and there's a lot of extra entertainment with the supporting cast (mostly a who's who of genial drunks and weathered first-timers and ex-Civil War soldiers). And with one exception- a poetically ironic but unnecessary scene with Mrs. Thursday getting the telegram of his transfer right before the climactic battle- there's barely a scene that doesn't register as something worthwhile for the story, or for some interesting characterization, or even something in as simple as a dance between Thursday and O'Rourke that reveals how good Fonda could be at staying in character while in a formal bit like that. We're also given the proverbial 'good' young-actor performances from John Agar as the West Point graduate young O'Rourke who's after Shirley Temple's daughter of Col. Thursday.

Fort Apache allows for all of the thrills and curiosities of watching an 'old-fashioned' Western, but there's more than meets the eye for Ford. It's all so deceptively simple; it's not quite as masterful as the Searchers, but it's very close, at deconstructing the myths of strong American men going to kill Indians and win the day inn honor to reveal the savagery underneath where logic is thrust aside. But at the same time, Ford still celebrates the valor in men in the old west, and there's something of a forerunner to the message of Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: when legend becomes fact, print (or film) the legend - albeit with some truth sprinkled here and there. Surely one of the better Ford and Wayne Westerns, and one another in the equally (or even more-so) rewarding collaboration with Fonda, here revealing a whole other side than a Lincoln or Tom Joad. 9.5/10


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