It is claimed that Private Aubrey Eberhardt of the US Army's parachute test corps at Fort Benning, Georgia, began the practice of U.S. Army paratroopers yelling "GERONIMO!" upon exiting the airplane after he and his comrades had seen this movie the night before an important test jump in 1940. See more »
"Geronimo" was apparently intended to be an epic western by Paramount but instead is no more than a "B" plus actioner. Taken on that level it is not bad. Much criticized for its extensive use of stock footage and cheap looking process shots, it nevertheless comes off as a pretty good western.
The story involves the efforts of the U.S. Army to stop Geronimo (Chief Thundercloud) from attacking the white settlers. General Steele (Ralph Morgan) is appointed to the task by President Grant. Assisting him are Captain Starrett (Preston Foster), a veteran Indian fighter who along with chief scout Sneezer (Andy Devine) have spent many years fighting against Geronimo. Into the mix comes the General's son (William Henry) who has been assigned to the General's command straight from West Point. Unscrupulous gun runner Gene Lockhart has been arming the Indians and assisting Geronimo in massing the tribes.
Although Foster and Ellen Drew are top billed, neither are the main characters in the story. The main sub plot involves the conflict between Morgan and Henry. The veteran Morgan steals the picture in my opinion. Drew is seen in only a few scenes and spends most of her screen time in a hospital bed. Foster plays nursemaid to the General's son, grumbles a lot with Devine and does little else. Chief Thundercloud is suitably brutal and savage, as the title character. Watch for veteran Indian actor Charlie Stevens as an Apache messenger. He was reportedly a blood relative of the real Geronimo.
The battle scenes are good and the acting is good all around. "Geronimo" may not have been the epic that Paramount intended, but it is an entertaining hour and a half in any case.
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