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A disgruntled settler kills an Apache chief at Fort Yuma, and the fort's commander knows that the chief's son, Manga Colorado, will seek revenge and go on the warpath. He sends word by a courier to Fort Apache where a supply column is due to head across the desert to Fort Yuman, but the courier is killed by Mangas. The column, under the command of Lieutenant Ben Keegan who hates Apaches because he doesn't trust them, and because his assigned scout is Jonas, the brother of an Apache girl, Francesca, whom Keegan has been having an affair with. Also accompanying them is Melanie Crowne, who is going to do missionary work among the Apaches. Mangas attacks the column wiping out everybody but Keegan, Jonas and Melanie. Francesca is killed while trying to warn Keegan, and he realizes how foolish he had been in his prejudice and in keeping his love secret. The Apaches, dressed in the uniforms of the dead soldier, plan to gain entrance to Fort Yuma and massacre the men there. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film was originally denied a seal from the Production Code Administration. Geoffrey Shurlock told producer Howard W. Koch that it contained "sadism and excessive gruesomeness". To get a seal, Koch reduced the number of killings from 24 to 10. Removed were scenes where a man is spread-eagled and torn apart by horses; an arrow impaling a hand to wood; and a scene depicting the bodies of hanged Indians, swaying from tree limbs. See more »
Capt. Santley sending a message to the General orders Pvt. Cassidy to "step on it". This phrase, to go fast, came from foot pedals in automobiles and pressing down to go faster. It would not have been a phrase used in the wild west. See more »
Setting aside for a moment the many legitimate problems of political correctness, if you like the classic cavalry and Indian B movie, this mid-50s film, despite its obscurity, may well thrill you--as it did me back when it was in theaters and I was in elementary school.
Its color is vivid, it's action scenes compelling, and it has everything one ought to expect from this genre.
--Spoiler to follow--
But the most stunning moment is when Corporal Taylor (played by James O'Hara), a man with whom the viewer can readily identify, surprisingly, during a gripping battle scene, takes an Indian spear in the back. He goes down, and his horse with him, in a mass of dust and thunder. His death is agonizing as his fellow troopers continue their retreat and leave him behind.
From this scene one comes away with the feeling that, in a heroic Hollywood film, this wasn't supposed to happen. Yet this is one of the film's memorable moments that gives it its edge.
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