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Tonka (1958)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, Family | 25 December 1958 (USA)
The remarkable and ironical story of a wild colt that changes owners around the time of the Great Sioux War of 1876.

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Cast

Cast overview:
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White Bull
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Capt. Miles Keogh
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Lt. Henry Nowlan
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Yellow Bull
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Britt Lomond ...
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Strong Bear
...
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Gen. Alfred Howe Terry
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Gregg Martell ...
Cpl. Korn
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Ace
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Lt. Crittenden (as Robert Buzz Henry)
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Storyline

In Dakota territory in the 1870s, White Bull, a young Sioux, proves his manhood by catching and training a wild colt he names Tonka. When a cruel cousin claims the horse as the privilege of rank, White Bull lets Tonka go. The horse ends up in the hands of a captain in the US cavalry about the time that Sitting Bull gathers the tribes to confront the growing US presence, epitomized by the bigoted General Custer. All paths, including those of White Bull and Tonka, lead to the confluence of the Little and Big Horn rivers. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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The Untold Story behind the West's Strangest Legend!


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Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

25 December 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Horse Named Comanche  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to actor, H.M. Wynant, who filmed with Sal Mineo, says Sal had a poker game going on every night. He was very sweet. See more »

Goofs

After the last soldier was killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn; the Indians didn't just ride away. The Indians stripped and mutilated the dead soldiers; the only exception was Lt. Colonel Myles Keogh (the owner of Comanche (his mount) considered to be the only survivor of the battle. See more »


Soundtracks

Tonka
Music by George Bruns
Lyrics by Hazel George (as Gil George)
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User Reviews

 
The only survivor on the cavalry side
4 March 2013 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Sal Mineo eschewed the urban areas which most of his films had him in for the Old West as he plays a young Sioux brave who captures and tames a wild horse he names Tonka. This is a fine film that still holds up well today and gave Mineo one of the best parts he ever had.

Sal and his peer Rafael Campos are warriors in training and Sal after trying to capture a brown stallion he admires loses the rope and a bow and quiver of arrows and gets the riot act read him by Sitting Bull. Still he goes out and actually finds and tames Tonka. But a warrior cousin H.M. Wynant claims the horse by seniority. Mineo would rather see the horse anywhere else but with Wynant and he frees him.

Through a chain of circumstances the horse gets captured and sold to the cavalry where he's renamed Comanche and he becomes the property of Captain Myles Keogh played by Philip Carey. And that is the background of the story of Mineo and the horse, the Battle of the Little Big Horn where the only survivor on the cavalry side was the horse Comanche.

All the players including Custer and Keogh are real people and the Battle of the Little Big Horn is well staged by Disney Studios. And next to Mineo the most notable performance in the film is that of Britt Lomond as General George Armstrong Custer.

If you are used to the image of Custer as portrayed by Errol Flynn in They Died With Their Boots On then what Britt Lomond did with the role will be a revelation. For those of you who think that Custer was glory hunting Indian hating fanatic than you will love to hate Britt Lomond. Lomond is best known as Captain Monasterio in the first episode of the Disney Zorro TV series. He was pretty hateful as Monasterio and just as hateful as Custer.

Tonka is a nice coming age story told from the American Indian point of view. Kids will universally identify with both Mineo and Campos. Tonka is also one of Disney Studios best films of the Fifties and one of its best ever.


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