Geronimo (1939) Poster


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Better than it has a right to be
frankfob20 November 2002
Although it was apparently supposed to be another version of C.B. DeMille's "The Plainsman" of a few years before, Paramount obviously thought better of it, and assigned director Paul Sloane (who???) to make an "epic" on the budget of a B picture. Surprisingly, Sloane didn't do a bad job. For one thing, the picture is well cast. Preston Foster has always been a solid, if not stolid, actor, and Andy Devine is as amusing as always. William Henry looks a bit out of place playing the young officer, but he acquits himself well enough. The real stars, though, are Gene Lockhart, who plays his trademark weasely villain to perfection, and Ralph Morgan, who does an outstanding job as the commanding general assigned to stop Apache warrior Geronimo from his ravaging of the territory. Chief Thundercloud bears a strong resemblance to the real Geronimo and actually does quite a good job, conveying the menace, cunning and intelligence that even the enemies of the actual Geronimo gave him credit for. The battle scenes, although consisting mainly of footage culled from many previous westerns--several of them looking like they dated back to the silent era--are for the most part pretty well integrated into the picture, although there are several instances where the use of process rear-projection shots is painfully obvious, notably during the fight on the island in the middle of the river. Overall, though, this is actually an entertaining picture. Although Paramount tried to fool the audience into thinking it was a bigger picture than it actually was, they really didn't need to do that, because it stands on its own pretty well. Enjoyable.
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Entertaining Hour and a Half!
bsmith55528 June 2002
"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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This ain't how it happened
bkoganbing8 July 2014
With a lot of stock footage from The Plainsman for the battle sequences and a plot partially borrowed from another Paramount classic Lives Of A Bengal Lancer, Geronimo is a good action film. It's however hardly the real story of the famous Apache Indian chief. For that you would have to see the film that starred Gene Hackman and Matt Damon back in 1993. For one thing they have the capture of Geronimo a decade earlier than when it occurred. U.S. Grant wasn't president when that happened, it was a man named Grover Cleveland.

But it's a good action western nevertheless. Preston Foster is your battle tested veteran of the Indian wars and he welcomes a new roommate on the post. It's William Henry son of the commander General Ralph Morgan and newly graduated from West Point. Morgan and Henry haven't seen each other for years and Morgan is a stiff ramrod of a soldier and not the most lovable guy around. He's been on a peace mission to Geronimo, but that quickly ends.

Andy Devine plays a civilian scout in the most Andy Devine way possible. Andy is actually less of a comic buffoon than usual. And playing a rat who is selling repeating rifles to the Apaches is Gene Lockhart who does his usual sniveling and groveling when caught. Geronimo himself is played with stoic menace by Chief Thundercloud.

I'm sure Geronimo was popular with the Saturday matinée crowd it sure has enough action. The players acquit themselves well, but this just ain't how it happened.
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This ain't history, but it does provide some information and enjoyment, if a sad reflection on man's inhumanity to man.
mark.waltz28 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This ain't history, but it does provide some information and enjoyment, if a sad reflection on man's inhumanity to man. Review: Who's the savage and who's the civilized nation? That's what comes to my mind in this allegory of alleged history, mixed with family drama, honor and certain beliefs in what was right or wrong. While cast as the title character, there's little information on the story of Geronimo other than the fact that he vowed to take the lives of 1000 white men when white men took the lives of his family. All that's presented here in the performance of alleged native American actor Chief Thundercloud, grunting a bit, looking evil eyed and very determined in his quest for vengeance. Army general Ralph Morgan has abandoned his wife and son for a military career, and when his son graduates from West Point, he is reunited with his gruff father. But when Morgan's estranged wife and Sutton's fiancee are viciously attacked by Geronimo, Morgan wakes up to how the savagry has impacted him, only then does he have the desire to become a father again.

Along the way, officer Preston Foster mentors the young son and when the inevitable reunion takes place, it's the three of them verses Geronimo's massive army which features the traitorous Gene Lockhart who pits the first settlers against the white man interloper. Watching this cowardly evil man get his comeuppance is one of the film's highlights. I don't think that this is the type of film to look as a history lesson, nor is it a film to find one side to root for. It was an ambitious project for Paramount studios which didn't always do well on American history unless Cecil B. DeMille was involved. For a bit of comedy, there's chubby and squeaky voiced Andy Devine as an army scout, fortunately not as annoying here as he was in that string of Universal programmers he made throughout the 1940's, and at a few points pretty substantial to the plot. Technically, this is outstanding, and even if the history seems much fictionalized, it shows one point of view and perhaps a reminder that the best points of view aren't either yours or mine, but the truth, if only you can figure out exactly what it is.
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