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They Rode West (1954)

Approved | | Western | 4 December 1954 (USA)
A young cavalry doctor treats very sick Indians against orders, whom are forced to stay on unhealthy land, which could lead to a war.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Frank Nugent) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Laurie MacKaye
...
Manyi-ten
...
Capt. Peter Blake (as Phil Carey)
...
Col. Ethan Waters
Peggy Converse ...
Mrs. Martha Walters
...
Sgt. Creever
...
Lt. Raymond
...
Chief Satanta
Eugene Iglesias ...
Red Leaf
...
Isatai
...
Chief Quanah
Ralph Dumke ...
Dr. Gibson
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Storyline

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 <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One false move meant death when ... They Rode West.

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 December 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Woodhawk  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In close ups Manyi-ten has long manicured finger nails. See more »

Goofs

Inside, the teepees are consistently larger than they are outside. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Better Than Expected
19 May 2011 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Better than expected, with a complex script, lots of action (not all well-staged), and even some character development. Francis is fine as the idealistic young doctor whose dedication to his Hippocratic oath is greater than his oath to the army. As a result, he treats hostile Indians as equals, causing trouble for the cavalry when the tribe jumps the reservation. It's hard to tell if Francis's apparent unease is good acting or still a bit of stage fright for a newcomer. But whichever, it fits in perfectly with a tenderfoot trying to get his bearings in unfriendly surroundings.

At first I thought Donna Reed's super-coy little flirt was nothing more than star-casting that would ruin the movie. But the script deals intelligently with her development as the plot darkens. Carey's excellent as the no-nonsense Captain, who's the realist counterpoint to the doctor's idealism. Note how he's never treated with disrespect even though some of his decisions seem ethically callous. Too bad, however, the writers included the tiresome cliché of a whiskey- loving sergeant as comedy relief. Nonetheless, director Karlson, who would later excel at crime dramas, keeps things moving, and wonder of wonders, even has the Indians shrewdly shooting horses out from under the cavalry.

The movie's theme reflects the growing racial consciousness of the 1950's. I like the way a bond is established between the doctor and the medicine man in their common human concern with healing. But just as importantly, the screenplay manages to make its point without getting preachy. Sure, the production is low-budget, never getting out of greater LA, with an Indian encampment that looks about as real as a Disneyland tableau. Still, it's a thoughtful and generally well-executed little horse opera that's better than it ought to be.


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