Dr. Allen Seward (Robert Francis) is assigned to a western cavalry post where his predecessors had been drunks and slackers. The post doesn't take kindly to him either, especially after he disregards regulations and tends to sick Indians on the malaria-infested reservation. The Indians break away from the reservation to move to a healthier higher ground, and when they join with the Comanches to besiege the fort, Seward is branded as a "woodhawk", the bird that turns against its own. Donna Reed is present as the niece of the post commander; Phil Carey is a cavalry captain that believes the only good Indian is a dead Indian, and May Wynn (who shared a screen debut with Francis in "The Caine Mutiny)is the white girl raised by the Indians and married to the chief's son. Francis would make only two more films before being killed in a 1955 plane crash. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Directed by Phil Karlson who later helmed the excellent GUNMAN'S WALK, this one involves an army surgeon (Robert Francis) who is at odds against his commander (Philip Carey) over the treatment of a malaria outbreak amongst the Kiowa.
Carey hates army doctors as much as the Kiowa since the last three he's had on his post were drunkards who should never have been in the service to begin with, so he doesn't take too kindly to Francis and treats the guy with contempt. Francis also feels he has to step in order to prevent another Indian war and he disobeys a direct order from Carey to treat the Kiowa chief's ailing son.
It's fairly standard fare that could have been better if the dialog wasn't so silly and they avoided using old stock footage of battle scenes that looked out of place with the rest of the film. Not to mention the fact that the rest of it was filmed on the same Columbia ranch locations that we've seen a hundred times before. It makes the whole thing look more typical than it should be.
With Jack Kelly & James Best as the junior officers, and Donna Reed as the niece of the post commander who spends a lot of time flirting with the officers, I'd give this one a less than average rating than a subject treatment like this deserves.
4 out of 10
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