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Broken Arrow (1950)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance, Western  |  August 1950 (USA)
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Tom Jeffords tries to make peace between settlers and Apaches.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Basil Ruysdael ...
Joyce Mackenzie ...
Terry (as Joyce MacKenzie)
Arthur Hunnicutt ...
Milt Duffield


By 1870, there has been 10 years of cruel war between settlers and Cochise's Apaches. Ex-soldier Tom Jeffords saves the life of an Apache boy and starts to wonder if Indians are human, after all; soon, he determines to use this chance to make himself an ambassador. Against all odds, his solitary mission into Cochise's stronghold opens a dialogue. Opportunely, the president sends General Howard with orders to conclude peace. But even with Jeffords's luck, the deep grievance and hatred on both sides make tragic failure all too likely. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

apache | peace | settler | mail | 1870s | See All (39) »


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Drama | Romance | Western


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Release Date:

August 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Arrow  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


At 41, James Stewart was 26 years older than Debra Paget, who was still only 15 when filming began in early June 1949. See more »


When General Oliver is beginning to pick himself off the ground after the Apache attack on the military wagon train, the first shot shows the ground to be mostly desert sand, with very little vegetation. But when the scene jumps to a long shot of the General getting up the ground around him is almost entirely covered with green vegetation, showing scarcely any sand at all. See more »


[first lines]
[opening narration]
Tom Jeffords: This is the story of a land, of the people who lived on it in the year 1870, and of a man whose name was Cochise. He was an Indian - leader of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. I was involved in the story and what I have to tell happened exactly as you'll see it - the only change will be that when the Apaches speak, they will speak in our language. What took place is part of the history of Arizona and it began for me here where you see me riding.
See more »


Featured in The Making of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Blessed Are The Peacemakers
3 November 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Broken Arrow was actually the start of James Stewart's return to the western genre. His first western was Destry Rides Again in 1939 and he waited for over 10 years to do another. After that he did them quite regularly.

Broken Arrow was made first, but held up over a year before release so Winchester 73 was actually Stewart's official return to the west. But both films had a lasting impact on his career.

This is the story of Army Captain Tom Jeffords who with a simple act of kindness started a peace process with the Apaches led by their charismatic leader Cochise. Jeffords, a veteran of the Union Army and the frontier wars is heartily sick of the slaughter he's witnessed and participated in. He finds an Indian boy who's been wounded by whites and he tends to them and heals him.

One thing leads to another and pretty soon Jeffords finds himself in the camp of Cochise with whom he strikes up a friendship. He also woos and wins an Apache maid named Sonseehray. Jeffords and Cochise with General Oliver O. Howard make a treaty with the Apache, at least most of them.

Broken Arrow did a lot for James Stewart, but even more for Jeff Chandler who plays Cochise. Cochise was a man in his late 60s when this was really taking place, but Chandler in his prematurely gray hair, portrays him well. Chandler got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Cochise.

Jeffords and Cochise are men of good will and decency who see an honest peace as the only answer. Of course both have to contend with people who won't or can't accept peace with the other race. It's those people and what they do break the peace that is the rest of Broken Arrow's story.

Delmar Daves is a good director of western films and in fact did another film about the U.S. government trying to make peace with another Indian tribe, the Modocs in Oregon, in the film Drumbeat. He gets good results out of the rest of the cast. Note the performances of Will Geer as an Indian hating rancher, Debra Paget as Sonseehray, and Basil Ruysdael as General Howard.

The screenplay was done by Albert Maltz of the Hollywood Ten. How ironic that Maltz was blacklisted after this film. I suppose a film about peace between the races and good will towards one's fellow men was highly subversive.

Broken Arrow was given much acclaim for being the first film to express the view that Indians were something more than bloodthirsty savages. That's not exactly true, other films around that time started saying the same thing. Nevertheless Broken Arrow's message is an eternal one.

Says so in the Scriptures if I'm not mistaken.

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