A cavalry captain has great difficulty keeping the peace between his tyrannical colonel and an Indian chief bent on revenge.A cavalry captain has great difficulty keeping the peace between his tyrannical colonel and an Indian chief bent on revenge.A cavalry captain has great difficulty keeping the peace between his tyrannical colonel and an Indian chief bent on revenge.
This was an independent film produced by one of the poverty row studios and released through United Artists. The quality of the film is poor. The other technical aspects also are low. The acting is split – some good and some not so good. The good include Andy Devine as Sgt. Garrity, Marilyn Maxwell as Cherry, and Lloyd Corrigan as the corrupt Judge Wilcox. The bad is Ted de Corsia as Indian chief Acoma, Jeff Corey as Coyote, and Lew Ayres as Captain Hunt. Raymond Burr is in this film and is a real despicable character. He already has his huge physical frame in this film. He's such a delegable character that I can't tell if he's guilty or not of bad acting as well. We may have loved Burr as Perry Mason in his long-running TV series by that name (1957-66, and revival series from 1985 until his death in 1993). But in this and a couple other early films I've seen him in, he wasn't very good.
What is of interest to me in this film, though, is the shooting location. This was mostly outdoors and on location in New Mexico. I thought I recognized the Acoma Indian Pueblo with its village built atop the 365-foot mesa. It's located about 60 miles West of Albuquerque, off I-40 at Exit 108. Today it's also called "Sky City." I visited there a few years ago, and took a tour from the Acoma Reservation Visitor's Center. In the 1950s – after this film was made, the Acoma tribe blasted a road through the rock to get to the top. We rode up in the tour bus and walked back down over a narrow, steep, almost hidden path. From the film, it appears that the views of the mesa and the church were from the South side, and possibly SE and SW. That would avoid any developed roads and facilities to the north.
Today about 300 adobe buildings are on top of the mesa. Most now have been repaired and finished with adobe. These are mostly two-story and three-story residences, with exterior ladders to go from one level to another. About 30 people now live permanently atop the mesa. It has no modern conveniences, no running water, electricity or sewage. The residents truck their supplies up, and haul their garbage out. Since this movie was made, the tribe has built a very nice Visitor's Center near the base of the mesa. The Acoma Pueblo is one of the oldest continuously occupied places in North America.
I went back and checked the shooting locations for this movie. The IMDb credits list Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Gallup, New Mexico, and California. But the credits don't specify the pueblo. While there are other pueblos to be sure, I don't think there's another located so distinctly as this one. And, there's a clue in the film tells me my guess is right. The Indian chief's name is Acoma. Now, how coincidental might that be, if it's not also the name of the tribe, reservation and pueblo where much of this movie was filmed?
My six stars for this film are for the action and the interesting location. Movie buffs who find themselves in that area in the future would enjoy a stop off at the Acoma Visitor Center and a tour of the pueblo's "Sky City."
- Apr 28, 2014