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Tomahawk (1951)

Approved | | History, Romance, Western | 5 February 1951 (USA)
In 1866 Wyoming, a frontier scout tries to prevent a war between the Sioux and the U.S. when the Army builds a road and a fort on territory previously ceded to the Sioux by treaty.

Director:

George Sherman

Writers:

Silvia Richards (screenplay), Maurice Geraghty (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Van Heflin ... Bridger
Yvonne De Carlo ... Julie Madden
Alex Nicol ... Lt. Rob Dancy
Preston Foster ... Col. Carrington
Jack Oakie ... Sol Beckworth
Tom Tully ... Dan Castello
John War Eagle ... Red Cloud
Rock Hudson ... Burt Hanna
Susan Cabot ... Monahseetah
Arthur Space ... Captain Fetterman
Russ Conway ... Major Horton (as Russell Conway)
Ann Doran ... Mrs. Carrington
Stuart Randall ... Sergeant Newell
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Storyline

In 1866, a new gold discovery and an inconclusive conference force the U.S. Army to build a road and fort in territory ceded by previous treaty to the Sioux...to the disgust of frontier scout Jim Bridger, whose Cheyenne wife led him to see the conflict from both sides. The powder-keg situation needs only a spark to bring war, and violent bigots like Lieut. Rob Dancy are all too likely to provide this. Meanwhile, Bridger's chance of preventing catastrophe is dimmed by equally wrenching personal conflicts. Unusually accurate historically. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Glory Story of the Great Sioux Indian Uprising!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 February 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tomahawk - Aufstand der Sioux See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$750,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

John Chivington served as colonel in the United States Volunteers during the Colorado War and the New Mexico Campaigns of the American Civil War. He became infamous for leading the Colorado Territory militia at the massacre at Sand Creek in November of 1864. He and his troops were responsible for the deaths of up to 170 Cheyenne and Arapaho - the majority of whom were women and children. See more »

Goofs

When Red Cloud attacks the soldiers with their new rifles, the weather changes; when Red Cloud is getting ready to attack, there are dark storm clouds behind the Indians; in the next scene, minutes later, there are only a few scattered clouds in a mostly sunny sky. See more »

Quotes

Dan Castello: I have to keep moving. Got iron in my blood. If I sit still, I rust.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Jim Bridger-The Sioux call him Tomahawk.
27 April 2011 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Battle of Powder River (AKA: Tomahawk) is directed by George Sherman and adapted for the screen by Sylvia Richards & Maurice Geraghty from a story by Daniel Jarrett. It stars Van Heflin, Yvonne de Carlo, Alex Nicol, Preston Foster, Jack Oakie, Tom Tully, John War Eagle and Susan Cabot. It's a Technicolor production filmed on location in the Black Hills of Dakota, with music by Hans J. Salter and photography by Charles P. Boyle.

"This is the Laramie Conference. A powder keg that may explode at any moment. It would take little to light the fuse. There are important and powerful men here. On one side the leaders of the Sioux nation-on the other representatives of the United States. But on this day it will take a great man to see both sides-Jim Bridger: pioneer, trapper and scout, is such a man."

Coming a year after Delmer Daves' excellent and similarly themed Broken Arrow, Battle of Powder River appears to have been lost in the mix of Westerns sympathetic to the Indians. Much like Broken Arrow, and for that matter Devil's Doorway (1950) as well, this is propelled by a magnetic and strong central lead performance. Van Heflin as Jim Bridger gives the film a believability factor, important for a film that's based around historical events in Montana Territory 1876/7. Thankfully the film built around Heflin isn't too bad either. The plot essentially involves Bridger, a man who married a Cheyenne woman, caught in the middle of an impending war between the Indians and the American military. The army are ordered to build a road and fort on land previously ceded to the Sioux by a previous treaty. This they want to do because of gold having been discovered in the Dakota's. Bridger sets about trying to keep peace but is undermined by personal conflicts and violent bigots like Lieut. Rob Dancy (and effective rascal turn by Alex Nicol).

Naturally for a film of this type, budget, era and running time, it's not an actual history lesson, so folk should not expect as such. But the makers are thoughtful as regards the events of the time and neatly tell their story via the fluctuating perspectives of the characters standing either side of the brewing conflict. It's also nicely shot by Sherman (The Battle at Apache Pass/Comanche) and Boyle (Horizon's West/Gunsmoke), the location work integral to the plot so as to understand what these people were ultimately fighting for. While Salter scores it in standard Cavalry Vs Indians style. The minor problems come with de Carlo's character and the shortness of the action. The former, admittedly lovely in Technicolor, serves only as romantic surplus who does a real dumb thing, and the latter is annoying since Sherman was more than capable of crafting exciting action (for example see the finale of The Battle at Apache Pass). Here the final battle of the title is swift and basically a compilation of charge and be felled sequences, while a buffalo scene is all too brief and only hints at what excitement could have been garnered from that passage of play. Annoyances for sure, but not enough to drag the piece down to B movie fodder territory.

Although it's trumped by two, thematically similar and better movies the previous year, the story, Heflin and the scenery make this a must see for the Western fan. 7.5/10


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