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Sheriff Lane Dakota captures robbery-murder suspect Greiner just as the latter is wounded in an Apache ambush. At remote outpost Apache River, Lane and his prisoner spend the night with other travelers, including 2 women with a surprising number of fancy dresses. In the morning, who should appear but a band of ostensibly peaceful Apaches strayed from the reservation. And bigoted Colonel Morsby is strongly inclined to shoot first and ask questions afterward... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
We scattered them from Mexico to California. We broke their ranks, and they re-formed. We burnt their villages, and they lived in caves. They have a will to survive, a passion for life, that shames any white man's. It never dies. Nothing destroys the Apache but death.
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Universal made a number of these modestly budgeted Technicolor westerns during the 1950's, usually starring Audie Murphy. Here, it's veteran bad guy McNally in a good guy departure from his usual. The movie starts off with an eye-catching chase across scenic red rock country, but soon moves indoors to the way- station. At that point, the characters multiply and, unfortunately, so does the talk, while the action turns mainly to soap opera with Indian complications.
Actually, my main gripe is with the two girls. Unhappy wife Ann (Greene) over-does the unhappy part by looking and acting like she just swallowed a big lemon, while the gorgeous Adams is decked out in enough finery and elaborate eye make-up to impress a queen. Now, I'm ready to suspend some disbelief in a western, knowing how preoccupied Hollywood and its leading ladies' are with glamour, but Adams' glamorized appearance here in the middle of Indian country is little short of ridiculous.
The plot itself is a well-worn one of Indians jumping the reservation and attacking whites. It's notable, however, that by the mid-50's Hollywood has been forced to recognize that Indians amount to more than convenient canon fodder for the cavalry. Here, the Apaches are provided recognizably human traits, especially the chief (the blue-eyed Barrier), while the cavalryman colonel (Marlowe) comes across as cruel and blood thirsty, certainly a reversal of the usual.
Given all the character complications, it's too bad the studio didn't assign a director more attuned to dramatics. Instead, director Sholem moves the dialog along in pretty bland fashion, draining away whatever intensity and suspense is in the script. All in all, it's a pretty undistinguished western, one that I doubt would have improved even in its original 3-D.
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