White settlers plan to defy the agreement between the government and the Comanche in order to mine for silver on Comanche lands, while scout Jim Bowie tries to keep the peace in the territor... Read allWhite settlers plan to defy the agreement between the government and the Comanche in order to mine for silver on Comanche lands, while scout Jim Bowie tries to keep the peace in the territory.White settlers plan to defy the agreement between the government and the Comanche in order to mine for silver on Comanche lands, while scout Jim Bowie tries to keep the peace in the territory.
You won't find a character listed in the credits as Davy Crocket, so why do I claim such in my title? One of the main characters is Daniel Seeger, played by Will Geer. In his eastern formal dress and top hat, he doesn't look anything like Fess Parker's later coonskin-capped film Davy Crocket. But he claims to be a long time frontiersman, Indian fighter/trader and sometimes congressman, and sports what looks like a Kentucky rifle. What historical figure who went to Texas and became a friend of Jim Bowie fits this description? Will Geer was quite a diverse character, with a degree in horticulture, a sometimes folk singer and always a willing advocate for radical political reform. In consequence, he would soon be blacklisted as a result of congressional communist witch hunting. But not before acting as Don O'Connor's buddy in the pirate spoof "Double Crossbones".
You may not be familiar with Carey as a Western leading man. I was not. He rather reminds me of Ray Milland. He may have lacked the larger-than-life physical image of the top Western leading men, but he proved a scrappy adversary of the evil and wrong-headed elements in this story, and his character eventually managed to make a friend out of Maureen's belligerent character, sealed in the parting shot, which you will like.
Now, what's all this talk about treaties between the US government and the Comanches? Remember, Texas at this time was still part of Mexico and would not become part of the US for another decade. Nonetheless, Sam Houston did arrive in Texas in 1833 to try to arrange a treaty between the US and Comanches. Mexican authorities were not amused and booted him out for a while. All the shenanigans in the film about disappearing and prospective treaty papers are pretty silly, although they form an important part of the plot.
What's all the fuss about a big silver strike in Comanche territory, that also is the central issue in the plot? I'm not aware of any such historical silver strike. However, it does have a slight historical basis. The real Jim Bowie did lead an expedition to central Texas in search of some diggings by Native Americans and , later, Mexicans, reputed to have yielded silver. But, nothing of consequence resulted. The screenplay story is quite different.
Overall, I found this quite an enjoyable film, with lots of humor, colorful characters, both hostile and friendly relations with Comanches, and insider, as well as outsider, badman elements. Most of the Comanches looked like real NAs. Probably, Quisima: the chief, is a corruption of the name of the last free Comanche chief: Quanah, historically relevant not for several decades later. The firearms generally had the look of the flintlocks of this period.
Along with "Against All Flags", and "The Redhead from Wyoming", released a couple years later, Maureen's character in this film allows her to be at her most charming shrewish spitfire self, and thus my favorite incarnations of her. Rather reminds me of my wife. Her spars with favorite leading man John Wayne in "The Quiet Man" and the much later "McClintock" may be much better known, but I prefer these two much shorter Universal films, which are now available as parts of cheap DVD sets of some lesser known films of that era.
- Jul 5, 2013