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Major Howell Brady and two non-coms are assigned to go to Indian territory and recruit peaceful Seminoles relocated from Florida to aid the army in fighting the larger, rampaging Kiowa tribe. Brady promises them better land than the subsistence reservation they have been assigned to. Maygro, their chief, although initially reluctant, finally agrees for the good of his people. However, Brady's superior, Col. Jackson Meade, is hostile to the idea and distrusts having Indians as allies. Beautiful widow Elaine Corwin, proves a pleasant distraction for Brady although her husband, a unrepentant Confederate whose body was never found, may still be alive and leading the savage Kiowas against the hated Yankees. Written by
In War Arrow, Major Jeff Chandler is sent west with two trusty sergeant sidekicks, Charles Drake and Noah Beery, Jr., to implement some ideas of his own about fighting the Kiowas. His answer is to recruit some reservation Seminoles as a fighting force against the Kiowa. Seems as though the Kiowas like to raid their villages as a warm up before attacking whites and the Seminoles have no weapons to resist.
These Kiowas led by Henry Brandon are devilishly tricky lot, almost as if they are led by someone who studied army military tactics. Turns out they are.
In her memoirs Maureen O'Hara dismisses both of her films with Jeff Chandler, this film and Flame of Araby which makes this one look good. She said he was a nice man, but they had no chemistry together at all. Chandler probably was not terribly interested in the project, he was just beginning to fight for better roles than the action programmers he was doing under his Universal contract.
Chandler is operating independently out of the fort commanded by John McIntire. Of course McIntire is obtuse and jealous because Chandler is romancing O'Hara who he has eyes for. Forgetting the jealousy angle, McIntire has every right to be put out about Chandler operating independently. The army chain of command is a sacred thing and any commander worth his salt wouldn't put up with it.
Of course why the Seminoles would possibly want to go to war on behalf of the white man against other Indians is not satisfactorily explained, even with the Kiowas. It certainly would seem far more likely to team up with the Kiowas.
On the plus side, War Arrow has some nice battle scenes, especially the climatic battle when the Kiowas come real close to capturing McIntire's fort. It also has some nice performances by Dennis Weaver and Suzan Ball playing Seminole lovers.
But it sure won't be ranked as one of the great cinema westerns.
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