Chief Sitting Bull of the Sioux tribe is forced by the Indian-hating General Custer to react with violence, resulting in the famous Last Stand at Little Bighorn. Parrish, a friend to the ... See full summary »
Chief Sitting Bull of the Sioux tribe is forced by the Indian-hating General Custer to react with violence, resulting in the famous Last Stand at Little Bighorn. Parrish, a friend to the Sioux, tries to prevent the bloodshed, but is court- martialed for "collaborating" with the enemy. Sitting Bull, however, manages to intercede with President Grant on Parrish's behalf. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
While everyone is waiting for President Grant's response, due before the next full moon, the moon's terminator (the line between light and shadow) apparently moves from left to right. The terminator always moves from right to left. See more »
Enid: "This is so bad it's gone past good and back to bad again".
You could make a pretty good case that this silly little 1954 movie represents the bottoming out of Hollywood. There had been and would be worse movies, super-cheap independent productions and exploitation films by second tier studios, but it is unlikely that a top studio like United Artists has ever been associated with something quite this God-awful.
"Sitting Bull" was intended as a historical epic (or at least a modest budget example of one), another in a fast growing line of movies dealing with the Battle of Little Big Horn or Custer's Last Stand. What is amazing about Hollywood is their continued unwillingness to tell the straight story about the engagement, as the true events of this military action have generated a sustained interest for over 130 years. Like the James gang's raid on Northfield, Minnesota, the true story is far more interesting that any of the embellished movie versions. If Hollywood is going to distort the events then they should change the names and call it by its correct name, fiction.
I've seen most of these Hollywood efforts and "Sitting Bull" is pretty much in a class by itself in the distortion department. Curiously, it appears that a fair amount of historical research went into the production as recognizable names are bandied about throughout the movie but rarely are they linked to the individual's real actions. A relatively obscure officer like Miles Keogh, who was killed with Custer, is a character in the film but his rank is incorrect and he not present at the climatic battle.
Earlier comments point out the most absurd of the movie's inaccuracies and distortions. It is certainly sympathetic to the Indians as Hollywood was actually remarkably quick to adopt this attitude. But even here there are distortions as the film specifically shows the Chief ordering that brave dead troopers not be desecrated. In fact the Indians stripped the bodies and went into mutilation frenzy at the conclusion of the fighting.
Dramatically the film is flat with Dale Robertson wooden as the lead actor (too bad they didn't use Cliff Robertson instead). Mary Murphy ("The Wild Ones") is his love interest and Douglas Kennedy is Custer.
Indian sympathizer Major Bob Parrish (Robertson) sacrifices his Army career and his romance because of his Indian sympathies. He stands in the way of greedy prospectors who want the Indian Territory opened up so they can search for gold. This was actually to some degree Custer's position, but in the film Custer is portrayed as a rabid Indian hater. Custer was a rash glory-seeking cavalry officer, he attacked rather than wait for reinforcements because did not want to share the glory of a victory with Crook and Terry. While no friend of the plains Indian, he was at worst indifferent to them. His main fault lay in underestimating their will and ability to resist his relatively small command.
Murphy's relationship with Robertson is unintentionally hilarious and devoid of basic logic. So if you are forced to watch this thing, you can at least look forward to their scenes for some much needed (if unintentional) comic relief.
"Sitting Bull" doesn't limit its social conscience factor to the red man, Parrish finds time to free a runaway black slave Sam (Joel Fluellen) from prison. It turns out that Sam has lived with the Sioux and he takes Parrish to their camp for a peace conference. The mad dog Custer messes up his efforts by disobeying President Grant and attacking the Indians at Little Big Horn. Of course nothing like this actually happened. Nor did Custer find himself standing up in the middle of a flat piece of prairie as the Indians rode around and around his command like it was a wagon train in an early Hollywood western. How do you say pathetic in Sioux?
Than again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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