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I Will Fight No More Forever (1975)

Not Rated | | Action, Drama, History | TV Movie 14 April 1975
In a period when many thought that "the only good Indian is a dead Indian," Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce won the admiration of the American Public.

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Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Captain Wood
Ned Romero ...
...
Toma
...
John Kauffman ...
Wahlitits
Nick Ramus ...
Rainbow
Frank Salsedo ...
White Bird
Vince St. Cyr ...
Chief Looking Glass (as W. Vincent St. Cyr)
Charles Ynfante ...
Yellow Wolf
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Storyline

Re-enactment of the story of Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé Indians, who lived in the beautiful Wallowa Valley of Idaho and Oregon. In 1877, President Grant opened the Valley to white settlement, and the Nez Percé were given 30 days in which to move to the Lapwai Reservation. The government sent the one-armed soldier-chief, General Oliver Otis Howard, to clear all Nez Percé out of Wallowa Valley. Chief Joseph, in a succession of shrewd military actions, outmaneuvered ten pursuing units of the U.S. Army until his outnumbered band -- sick, starving, and tired -- finally surrendered after a 1700-mile, 108-day fighting retreat. On October 8, 1877, Chief Joseph made his noble speech, "from where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." Written by Fiona Kelleghan <fkelleghan@aol.com>

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Not Rated | See all certifications »
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14 April 1975 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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General Oliver O. Howard: Your civilian has started a war. A war, Captain!
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User Reviews

What do you do when following orders is unjust?
4 May 2014 | by (Ohio/PA border) – See all my reviews

"I Will Fight No More Forever" is an overlooked Western from 1975, possibly because it was made-for-TV. Despite this, it's actually better than a lot of theatrically released Westerns from the same period or, at least, just as good.

THE PLOT: When gold is discovered on the ancestral lands of the Nez Perce (in the NE corner of Oregon and border of Idaho) their treaty is broken to allow settlers to move into their lands, which results in conflict. The US Army seeks to subjugate the tribe of 800 and relocate them to a reservation, but Chief Joseph – Native name: Hinmatóowyalahtq'it – resists, winning 18 engagements against the Army with only a little over a hundred warriors. These engagements include four major battles and four fiercely contested skirmishes. The Nez Perce War lasted four months and involved a 1200-mile chase. Joseph and his tribe ultimately sought refuge in Canada. Will they make it? See the movie.

Being a TV movie from 1975 I was expecting to be let down; I was anticipating white actors playing Natives and a roll-your-eyes tone, but this isn't the case at all. The main Indian characters are played by Native Americans of various tribes; even Ned Romero, who plays Chief Joseph, is Chitimacha Native American (as well as French/Spanish). The ending of the film lists the Native actors and their tribal ancestry.

As for the tone, although you can't expect "Dances With Wolves" quality in a TV Western from 1975, it's not that far off. Although the portrayal of the Indians is too "Hollywood-ized" in that they're perhaps overly noble and virtuous, it rings true nevertheless. There's a great scene where a few braves break into a saloon to enact revenge on the white trash who murdered a tribesman. The warriors are painted and the patrons are convincingly scared for their lives. The ending of the sequence makes a powerful statement.

James Whitmore and Sam Elliott play the general and colonel of the Army respectively and you can witness their struggle with performing their duty and doing what's right. They respect Joseph and his warriors and realize that the tribe only wants to retain their freedom, and understandably so: it was promised to them via a treaty. The officers know what they're doing is unjust, but they're under orders.

Composer Gerald Fried of Star Trek fame (e.g. "Amok Time") wrote the quality score and even reprises some obvious Trekian aspects. The film runs 105 minutes.

BOTTOM LINE: "I Will Fight No More Forever" inspired me to research the historical facts, which the movie is pretty good with, even supplying a screen-map detailing Joseph's 1200-mile route every step of the way. Despite being well-done, the topic is dreary and the story isn't compelling enough to give a higher grade. Still, this is a very respectable film and a must-see if you like pro-Indian Westerns and want to see the awful truth.

GRADE: B+


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Does anyone know if this is available on DVD? ramsey01
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