In 1876, Duncan MacDonald joins the new, 300-member Mounted Police in western Canada, just in time for a dangerous mission. It seems the Cree Indians, raiding across the border in Montana, ... See full summary »
In 1876, Duncan MacDonald joins the new, 300-member Mounted Police in western Canada, just in time for a dangerous mission. It seems the Cree Indians, raiding across the border in Montana, took two hostages for their safe return to Canada. But MacDonald, with only scout Natayo to help, will need all his diplomacy and then some to extract the captives from the midst of a thousand Cree. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
I'm not sure, but has there ever been a film made with a less than sympathetic treatment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police? The Mounties have done very well cinema wise and Pony Soldier is not setting any new patterns.
It doesn't have to because it's a very entertaining film. The plot has a lot of similarities to Broken Arrow which 20th Century Fox also produced. Tyrone Power is playing Constable Duncan MacDonald, newly arrived at Fort Walsh and sent out on a mission to negotiate a peace with Cree Indians who've left their reserve and tangled with U.S. Cavalry south of the border. On the way back they've taken two white prisoners in a raid and Power is looking to get them back. One is Penny Edwards who catches the eye of Cameron Mitchell and he decides she'd make a good squaw for his little brother. The other is Robert Horton who's an escaped outlaw.
So intrepid Mountie Power along with his Indian guide Thomas Gomez go to the camp of the Crees. Gomez is a most reluctant guide, in fact he's kind of blackmailed into making the journey. Thomas Gomez is an underrated and capable actor who deadpans some very funny lines.
Two others in the cast really make this work. Little Anthony Numkena plays the Cree Indian boy who Power adopts and that turns out to be a great negotiating technique. But their affection is genuine and the scenes between Power and Numkena are some of the best in the film.
Stuart Randall plays the Cree Chief Standing Bear. His portrayal is very similar to Jeff Chandler's more heralded portrayal of Cochise in Broken Arrow. In fact the Indians are not stereotyped, they are three dimensional characters here. Randall does a fine job as Standing Bear, negotiating with Power and having to contend with militants in his own camp led by Cameron Mitchell. Since Jeff Chandler had already broken the same ground with Cochise, Randall's performance has been overlooked, unfortunately so for him.
Tyrone Power is a whole cloth hero here and does a fine job. One of the things that Americans don't appreciate is that the Mounties were there in large measure to protect the native Indians from white depredation. Canadians have always loved contrasting that to how the U.S. Cavalry treated the native population. Our cavalry was there on the settler's behalf. The contrast is certainly a matter of historical record, but I wonder if Canada had seen the immigration westward that America did, would their Mounties have been more like our blue coats.
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