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A greedy businessman is charging outrageous prices to homesteaders who wish to join a wagon train he's organizing to travel from Missouri to California. Meanwhile, he has broken the treaty his predecessor made with the Osage Indians to provide trade goods in return for passage across the Native Americans' land. When the wagonmaster hired for the trip learns of the businessman's duplicity and tries to set things right before the Indians go on the warpath, the businessman's henchmen are ordered to kill him. Written by
Fort Osage is directed by Lesley Selander and written by Dan Ullman. It stars Rod Cameron, Jane Nigh, Morris Ankrum, Douglas Kennedy, John Ridgely and William Phipps. Music is by Marlin Skiles and Cinecolor cinematography is by Harry Neumann.
Little seen or forgotten, Fort Osage is one of those quintessential early 1950s "B" Westerns that stands up tall and proud in wishing to entertain all the family.
Plot has Ankrum as greedy businessman Arthur Pickett, who is charging extortionate prices for the travellers staying in Fort Osage who wish to join the Wagon train he's organising to travel from Missouri to California. However, the hired Wagon Master, Tom Clay (Cameron) has witnessed an Indian attack on a lone wagon travelling through Osage Indian territory and smells a rat straight away. Once in town it becomes clear to Clay that a treaty has been broken and unless he can weed out the corrupt bad guys, a devastating war will arise.
This is no hidden Western classic, the formula would become old hat as the decade wore on, and any hopes of great thesping and thematic potency will be crushed within the first 15 minutes. That said, there are plenty of Western fans who just love a basic "B" Western with plenty of action, machismo, romance and good old good guys versus bad guys larking about. Fort Osage fills those requirements comfortably.
Selander wastes no time in showing his hand for what type of movie he is making, an Indian attack straight away raises the pulses. From there he introduces the main players in the story, setting their respective character traits from the off. Clay is our hero, who naturally is up against it in the beginning, and the trajectory has him refuse to help the weasel types in their operations; with Kennedy's George Keane the aggressive muscle scumbag leading the henchmen offensive ready to put Clay in his grave.
Nigh (as Ann Pickett) files in for beauty dressage (she fits it well for sure), with the added kicker that she is the daughter of Ankrum's corrupt businessman. But frustratingly there is a dangled theme involving her that isn't given any more thought. Clearly there is some jealousy from the other town ladies towards Ann because of her wealth, but this being a Selander "B" Western means we aren't about to explore that thematic when you can throw in an action scene instead!
So! Enter a good old barroom fight, a chase and shootout, then some dialogue scenes to find out why the treaty has been broken? Bad dudes attack reservation to further compound the heated atmosphere, which leaves Clay in a tricky situation as he has a great relationship with the Osage Tribe. It of course will all come out in the wash, via a posse formation after Clay rallies the denizens of Fort Osage and via a touch and go accord with the Osage Indians. Cue great chase sequence and a great shootout finale before Clay, the lucky devil, is obviously going to be getting his oats for a long time from Ann. Yee-Haw. 6.5/10
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