Indian fighter, trapper and frontier scout Kit Carson leads a wagon train of settlers from Fort Bridger, along the Oregon Trail through Shoshone territory, to California which plans to secede from Mexico.
While doing her tight-rope act in a local circus, Daisy Hawkins (Judy Canova), sees the owner shot by gangsters. The gangsters are after her to eliminate the only eye witness and the police... See full summary »
Pretty good, but not in the same league as Fort Apache
As Herbert J. Yates of Republic Pictures was losing his stable of cowboy stars to television one way or another, he started doing serious westerns such as this one. Oh! Susanna in which the song is heard over the title credits and not again is a good cavalry western that borrows a great deal from the John Ford classic Fort Apache. They even use the same song about 40 miles a day on beans and hay. And John Ford regular Jack Pennick an old horse cavalryman was technical adviser.
The director was Joseph Kane who cut his teeth on Gene Autry and Roy Rogers features was now branching into more serious work. Like Fort Apache the conflict is between two officers, new commander Lieutenant Colonel Forrest Tucker and Rod Cameron the captain who was in charge of the fort before. Tucker rose through the ranks and he truly hates West Point types like Cameron. Especially those like Cameron who take their orders seriously about keeping settlers out of the Sioux's sacred Black Hills territory. Cameron and Tucker are also rivals for Lorna Gray who works in Jim Davis's saloon and Davis has an interest in her as well. Tucker has no compunction about pulling rank.
In Fort Apache there was a certain poetic nobility invested in both the main characters of John Wayne and Henry Fonda. But John Ford was a poet on the screen. Nothing terribly noble about Tucker in fact he's downright stupid. There's quite a bit of similarity with another Henry Fonda film Mister Roberts with Fonda's rivalry with his captain James Cagney.
A lot of the enlisted men could have easily been drawn from any of John Ford's cavalry film. Chill Wills plays the sergeant assigned to Cameron's platoon who narrates at the beginning and the end and it is his eyes through which the film is seen. This is one of Chill Wills's best screen roles.
If you didn't see the similarities between Fort Apache and Oh! Susanna before the ending is taken right from that film. Fort Apache is one of my favorite westerns and while Oh! Susanna is not in the same league, it's still a pretty good western
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