When a handful of settlers survive an Apache attack on their wagon train they must put their lives into the hands of Comanche Todd, a white man who has lived with the Comanches most of his ...
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Blaise Starrett is a rancher at odds with homesteaders when outlaws hold up the small town. The outlaws are held in check only by their notorious leader, but he is diagnosed with a fatal wound and the town is a powder keg waiting to blow.
When a handful of settlers survive an Apache attack on their wagon train they must put their lives into the hands of Comanche Todd, a white man who has lived with the Comanches most of his life and is wanted for the murder of three men. Written by
Average Shot Length = ~6.7 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~6.1 seconds. Both values are fast for a reasonably early CinemaScope film. See more »
Just before The End title comes up, you can see the shadow of the camera crew as Todd rides off. See more »
[after capturing Todd, Sheriff Harper offers to join Colonel Normand's wagon train]
He's safe in your custody, I suppose. It's just that we got women and children with us.
Sheriff Bull Harper:
He'll be safe. The first time he don't look safe, he'll get dead.
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Opening credits prologue: 1873 Arizona Territory See more »
I caught "The Last Wagon" for the first time on TV many moons ago. All I remember is that it kicked axx from beginning to end. Seeing it again last night, I'm happy to report that this 1956 Western holds up well despite the dated score.
THE STORY: Richard Widmark stars as Comanche Todd, a white man raised by Comanches and under arrest for murder. Deep in hostile Apache territory he soon finds himself the leader of a small group of youths from a wagon train. Will they make it out alive? And, even if they do, can Todd escape the sentence of death-by-hanging?
First of all, this film is gorgeous to look at -- shot on location in Sedona, Arizona, at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon.
Secondly, not only is the plot excellent, so are the characters, cast and everything else. The film successfully takes you back to the late 1800s and gives a good glimpse of what it must have been like to travel out West during that time.
Felicia Farr and Susan Kohner stand out in the supporting cast; both are incredibly beautiful. Each youth has his/her issue(s) and grows much as a result of their experiences with Comanche Todd and the dire situation. For instance, Susan (Jolie) is ashamed that she's half-Indian but Todd teaches her to be proud of who and what she is. Others hate Todd for being an "injun lover" but later see the error of their ways. Todd himself is lost in in a fog of bitterness & revenge but a new potential family is thrown in his lap. Can he get over his disillusionment to see the blessing in his current situation? This is just a taste of the character arcs addressed in the story.
Stop the presses! Christianity and Christians are actually portrayed in a positive light -- amazing! Yet so are the beliefs/practices of the Natives. The film does an outstanding job of taking the middle road with the settlers and the natives. Not to mention, the Indians are portrayed realistically, unlike many 50's Westerns where you just roll your eyes at their silly depiction.
Aside from the dated score (which isn't bad, just dated), the only negative I can cite would be the way in which the conflict with the Apaches is concluded. But the film makes up for it with a powerful end-commentary on the nature of universal justice.
The DVD features both the widescreen and fullscreen versions.
MY GRADE: A
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