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Fort Apache (1948)

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At Fort Apache, an honorable and veteran war captain finds conflict when his regime is placed under the command of a young, glory hungry lieutenant colonel with no respect for the local Indian tribe.

Director:

John Ford

Writers:

Frank S. Nugent (screenplay), James Warner Bellah (suggested by the story "Massacre")
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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Capt. Kirby York
Henry Fonda ... Lt. Col. Owen Thursday
Shirley Temple ... Philadelphia Thursday
Pedro Armendáriz ... Sgt. Beaufort (as Pedro Armendariz)
Ward Bond ... Sgt. Maj. Michael O'Rourke
George O'Brien ... Capt. Sam Collingwood
Victor McLaglen ... Sgt. Festus Mulcahy
Anna Lee ... Mrs. Emily Collingwood
Irene Rich ... Mrs. Mary O'Rourke
Dick Foran ... Sgt. Quincannon
Guy Kibbee ... Capt. Dr. Wilkens
Grant Withers ... Silas Meacham
Jack Pennick Jack Pennick ... Sgt. Daniel Schattuck
Ray Hyke Ray Hyke ... Lt. Gates
Movita ... Guadalupe
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Storyline

Deep into the territory of the great Apache chief, Cochise, the demoted Civil War general, Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday, reports for duty as a commanding officer at the remote U.S. cavalry outpost known as Fort Apache, along with his daughter, Philadelphia. There, the arrogant commander will soon lock horns with the realistic and sensible second-in-command, Captain Kirby York, who, as an expert in the local Apaches, disagrees with Thursday who wants to make a name for himself in the Arizona frontier. In the end, is it wise to engage in battle when personal glory is all you seek? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

John Ford's Masterpiece of the Frontier!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

14 June 1948 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

War Party See more »

Filming Locations:

Monument Valley, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Argosy Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cinematographer Archie Stout quarrelled with John Ford frequently and even refused to shoot certain scenes the way Ford wanted them. See more »

Goofs

As York and Thursday are about to leave to trail Lt O'Rourke and the repair wagon, Thursday is wearing a blue kepi with a white cloth in the back to protect his head. When they arrive at Meachem's, he's still wearing the kepi with the cloth. However, as they charge after the Apaches chasing the repair wagon, where's Thursday? There is nobody wearing a kepi in the whole charge. See more »

Quotes

Captain Yorke: A charge! Mounted in fours!
RSM Michael O'Rourke: Why the madman!
Captain Yorke: And I'm to stay with the wagon train... and take O'Rourke with me.
RSM Michael O'Rourke: You'll find Lt. O'Rourke with his troop, sir. And thank you.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in El recomendado (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

The Regular Army O
(uncredited)
Music by David Braham
Lyrics by Edward Hart
[Sung by soldiers after Sweet Genevieve.]
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Most Powerful of Ford's 'Cavalry' Trilogy...
24 September 2003 | by cariartSee all my reviews

John Ford's FORT APACHE is the first of a three-film cycle chronicling the exploits of the U.S. Cavalry in the settling of the West, but it is far more than that; as a thinly-disguised reworking of the George Armstrong Custer story, it provides insight about a leader so blinded by his own ambition and ego that his actions nearly wipes out his command, and would have to be 'covered-up' by an Army that always protects its 'own'. Ironically, in whitewashing his actions, he becomes a national hero, giving him, posthumously, the attention he'd craved. The story is a powerful one, and in the hands of a top-notch cast, FORT APACHE is as timely today as when it was first released.

Henry Fonda's Lt.Col. Owen Thursday is a complex, driven man, a martinet who considers his transfer to the western outpost as a slap in the face by the War Department. Accompanied by his daughter, Philadelphia (a grown-up and vivacious Shirley Temple), he arrives at Fort Apache early, and discovers the welcoming festivities are not for him, but for the return of the son of Sgt.Major O'Rourke (Ward Bond), a new second lieutenant, fresh from West Point. The younger O'Rourke, portrayed by John Agar, and Philadelphia are immediately attracted to one another (they were married, off screen), but, displaying a 'class' snobbery, Col. Thursday nixes any chance of an officer's daughter and an enlisted man's son (even if he is an officer) having a romance.

As the new commander, Thursday shows an insensitivity to both his own men (he rebukes former commander Capt. Collingwood, played by George O'Brien, in front of the other officers), and the intellectual and tactical skills of the Indians (drawing the ire of John Wayne, as Capt. Kirby York). He does convince York that he is interested in parlaying with Cochise, however, and soon York, whom the chief respects, is on his way to Mexico, to get him to cross the border for a meeting between the two leaders and the corrupt Indian agent (Grant Withers) whose actions had led to the current insurrection.

Ultimately, Cochise does cross the Rio Grande, and Thursday reveals his true plan; to demand a return to the reservation, or face annihilation. York feels betrayed, and warns Thursday that he's setting himself up for a massacre, especially as the commander intends to bring his entire command to the meeting. Thursday simply sneers at his warning, sarcastically suggesting that York is crediting Cochise as being as brilliant as Napoleon.

The meeting is brief, with Thursday showing no respect, and, sure enough, ends disastrously. Cochise, prepared for a potential betrayal, has lined the canyon walls beyond the meeting place with hundreds of sharpshooters, and, despite York's warnings (leading to his being branded by Thursday a 'coward', and ordered to remain with a rear guard), the Colonel leads his command in a charge, into the canyon...

In an unsympathetic role, Henry Fonda is marvelous, actually making Col. Thursday believable, if not likable. John Wayne, despite star billing, is actually secondary, plot-wise, but is excellent as the officer who learns, finally, what it means to command, by watching the wounded Thursday return to his command, and face certain death.

Major subplots of all three 'Cavalry' films would be devoted to Sergeants, and FORT APACHE offers four truly memorable ones, in Bond, Pedro Armendariz, Victor McLaglen, and Dick Foran.

FORT APACHE is a film that could easily stand alone as a superb drama; as the first of the trilogy, it set a high standard, and is considered by most critics as the finest of the three films.

It is unforgettable!


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