The Stand at Apache River (1953) Poster

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8/10
Sleeper--Rich, Superior Siege Story; Strong Characters...
silverscreen88812 July 2005
The storyline here is a classic one, I suggest. A group of persons end up trapped by at remote outpost, Apache River, when Apaches break out of the reservation. Already there when a tough sheriff brings in a prisoner are a city girl on her way to meet her fiancé, a bigoted army colonel, the owner's wife who is frantic to escape the arid and lonely locale, and the hired man who fancies her. At first the Indians act peaceably; but the colonel, whom they loathe because of his past crimes against the Indians causes them to lay siege to the station. The city girl blames the sheriff for being too-brutal; the events of the film prove he knows the West better than she does. An interesting episode occurs when they capture the Indians' leader during an Indian strike, and they have a chance to interact with him, before he is killed by his own men. The film was vividly directed by Lee Sholem, with a script filled with good dialogue and action scenes supplied by Arthur Ross from Robert J. Hogan's novel "Apache Landing". The production looks expensive, thanks to contributions from some of Hollywood's best: music by Frank Skinner and others, art direction by Hilyard Brown and Bernard Herzbrun, cinematography by Charles P. Boyle, set decoration by Oliver Emert and Russell A. Gausman, costume design by Bill Thomas, makeup by Joan St. Oegger, makeup by Bud Westmore, and action scene and second unit work by Jesse Hibbs. The rather good cast includes capable Stephen McNally as the sheriff, pretty Julia Adams as the Eastern girl, Hugh Marlowe as the evil Colonel Moresby, Hugh O'Brian as the station owner, Jaclynne Greene as his unhappy wife, Jack Kelly as the smitten helper, veteran Russell Johnson as the captured killer, and powerful Edgar Barrier as the captured chief. The production is attractive and looks good on color, and the narrative flows very well, building real suspense as the embattled group fight against Indian attacks, dwindling ammunition and loss of food, water and hope. This is a very well-written and memorable western in many ways, not the least of which is its superior characters. it ends with the sheriff and the girl reaching an understanding, and the siege being lifted.  
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7/10
good production values and acting, holds interest
chipe7 January 2012
I gave it a 7 rating. It certainly deserved more than the 4.8 user rating given it at this point.

I was impressed with the high production values, which could be so high for a B Western because there was mainly just one locale -- a stagecoach way station beside a ferry crossing. I liked the substantial cast of well-known actors, the photography, costumes (especially gorgeous Julia Adams in tight-fitting gowns, yum), music, dialog, etc. The overall story was certainly weak. The fast moving story and all the characters and interrelationships made for an enjoyable movie.

There is a lot to say on the negative side. You need a lot of "suspension of disbelief" to tolerate the movie. The whites are surrounded and outnumbered by Indians in the stage depot. Everything is against them. In this dire situation, they are lucky that the Indians just want the Colonel to promise not to pursue the Indians for what some renegade Indians did. But the crazy hateful Colonel thinks Indians are always guilty, and says some people have the burden to prove that they are innocent! He won't make that promise. Eventually the Indian chief says it is enough for the Colonel to accompany the Indians back to the reservation, and then he can leave with no promise about returning or not. But the Colonel refuses, so the one-sided battle begins, but incredibly the good guy and his girl fight/kill the Indians to practically the last man standing.

The movie also contained silly soap opera relationships between the characters. The soap opera could have been worse and did add to the interest.
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7/10
We burnt their villages, and they lived in caves.
Spikeopath18 August 2011
The Stand at Apache River is directed by Lee Sholem and adapted to screenplay by Arthur Ross from the novel Apache Landing written by Robert J. Hogan. It stars Stephen McNally, Julia Adams, Hugh Marlowe, Hugh O'Brian and Jaclynne Greene. Filmed in Technicolor on location at Red Rock Canyon State Park and Victorville in California, film has music by Frank Skinner and cinematography by Charles P. Boyle. Story is about a group of people holed up at a stage coach station trying to not only survive the restless Apache Indians wanting to get in, but to also survive each other.

OK, picture treads familiar ground as regards the theme of the U.S. Cavalry's attempt to return Indians to the reservations or else! And anyone who has watched a number of B westerns should be wise enough to know how this one is going to pan out. True enough as well to say that the acting on show is passable at best, even if Adams looks gorgeous and is costumed accordingly, and McNally cuts a decent hero in waiting figure. Yet this is comfortably worthy of time invested on account of the group dynamic that forms the thrust of the narrative. As the group: bigot soldier, outlaw, sheriff, 2 women, stage coach driver, come under pressure, it becomes a battle of wills as the opposites start to clash.

The human drama within the depot is tightly scripted, but never overly talky, and the makers are keen to instill some action into the story as well. Which duly comes in the form of long range weapon warfare, escape attempts and the actual Apache attacks. There's also a neat twist development that significantly alters the make up of the mood within the depot. Add in some lovely Red Rock Canyon location photography by Charles Boyle and it's a case of a B western delivering a bit more on its promise. It will not hang around in the memory bank for too long after Frank Skinner's typical Cowboy "N" Indians score has closed the picture out, but it's certainly interesting while it's on. 6.5/10
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7/10
Plenty of action... and plenty of dresses!
Tweekums23 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The story opens with a man being chased through a typically rocky western landscape; he hides a pair of saddle bags shortly before being attacked by two previously unseen Indians; he is wounded but kills one; the second is killed by the man chasing him. The man running is Greiner, who is wanted for murder and robbery, and his pursuer is Sheriff Lane Dakota who is determined to see him hang. Dakota puts his wounded prisoner on his horse and they ride to the ferry crossing at Apache River.

Once over the river they stay overnight at the station along with the Ann Kenyon, who runs the station, the ferryman, Col. Morsby, a veteran of the wars against the Apache who seems to regret not exterminating them and Valerie Kendrick, a woman on her way to meet her fiancé. They haven't been there long before a band of Apaches turn up; they say they want to trade but they also have understandable grievances about how they have been treated. They say they will depart overnight and return to the reservation but in the morning they are still there and demand that the colonel be handed over to them. This doesn't happen and it isn't long before the station is under attack and there is no way to get help; if they are to survive they will have to fight off the attack themselves as their limited supply of ammunition quickly dwindles.

This is a fairly standard B-western with a well won plot; that doesn't stop it being entertaining though and the single location gives it a good claustrophobic feel. The characters are the sort one would expect and it isn't too difficult to guess who is going to make it and who won't, based on how good they are as people. Stephen McNally does a decent job as protagonist Lane Dakota and Julie Adams is a delight as Valerie Kendrick, looking fantastic in a series of stunning dresses... I'm surprised she found time to get changed so often though! While the threat is from the Apaches the real villains are the bigoted colonel who wronged them in the first place; Greiner who is determined to evade justice and Mrs. Kenyon who is determined to get away even if it means abandoning the others. The story is really just something to hang the action on and the action is great; it starts in the opening minutes and after a short lull while we are introduced to the characters and their situation it barely lets up until the end. Over all I'd say this is worth watching if you are a fan of the genre... at less than eighty minutes in length it won't waste that much of your time even if you don't enjoy it too much!
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Too Much Story for 70-Minutes
dougdoepke2 March 2012
Universal made a number of these modestly budgeted Technicolor westerns during the 1950's, usually starring Audie Murphy. Here, it's veteran bad guy McNally in a good guy departure from his usual. The movie starts off with an eye-catching chase across scenic red rock country, but soon moves indoors to the way- station. At that point, the characters multiply and, unfortunately, so does the talk, while the action turns mainly to soap opera with Indian complications.

Actually, my main gripe is with the two girls. Unhappy wife Ann (Greene) over-does the unhappy part by looking and acting like she just swallowed a big lemon, while the gorgeous Adams is decked out in enough finery and elaborate eye make-up to impress a queen. Now, I'm ready to suspend some disbelief in a western, knowing how preoccupied Hollywood and its leading ladies' are with glamour, but Adams' glamorized appearance here in the middle of Indian country is little short of ridiculous.

The plot itself is a well-worn one of Indians jumping the reservation and attacking whites. It's notable, however, that by the mid-50's Hollywood has been forced to recognize that Indians amount to more than convenient canon fodder for the cavalry. Here, the Apaches are provided recognizably human traits, especially the chief (the blue-eyed Barrier), while the cavalryman colonel (Marlowe) comes across as cruel and blood thirsty, certainly a reversal of the usual.

Given all the character complications, it's too bad the studio didn't assign a director more attuned to dramatics. Instead, director Sholem moves the dialog along in pretty bland fashion, draining away whatever intensity and suspense is in the script. All in all, it's a pretty undistinguished western, one that I doubt would have improved even in its original 3-D.
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7/10
"I don't use a man's life to make deals."
classicsoncall15 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Boy, talk about conflicted women, this story had two of them. Ann Kenyon (Jaclynne Green) laments her position as the caretaker at the Apache River Station, distraught over her husband's long and frequent departures on business, and desperately wants to make a clean get away when a band of Apaches threaten a small group of travelers that just arrived. Valerie Kendrick (Julie Adams) is one of those travelers, on her way to meet her fiancé, but questioning whether she even loves the man enough to make a commitment. It doesn't help that she's pretty much a bleeding heart when lawman Lane Dakota (Stephen McNally) hauls in a wounded outlaw intending to bring him to trial for a hanging. She shares all the classic arguments for the man's possible innocence in the absence of witnesses. Well, she was from back East, so what does she know?

This happens an awful lot in old time Westerns but I've never mentioned it before, so this might be a good place to do so. It's not till near the end of the story we find out the sheriff's name is Dakota. So when you pull up the title here on IMDb, one finds out his full name is Lane Dakota. The name 'Lane' was never mentioned in the story, so why bring it up here? It probably appeared that way in the source material and/or screenplay, but it would be a good idea to give the viewer a heads up at some point, don't you think?

This story has one of those classic confrontations between a hotheaded, racist military Colonel (Hugh Marlowe) and a more level headed plainsman (McNally) who grew up around Indians and knows the score on what they're intentions might be after being pushed around by the white man all their lives. The Apache band in the story is led by a chief called Cara Blanca, which puzzled me a bit because the translation from Spanish means 'White Face', and that wouldn't seem to be a characteristic of an Apache. I don't know, sometimes I manage to over think these things in stories like this.

With Colonel Morsby and Chief Cara Blanca recounting abuses between the soldiers and Indians over a span of time, the stage is set for a showdown at the trail station when both sides refuse to buckle under to the other side's demands. Throughout this ordeal I couldn't help but notice Miss Kendrick's quite fashionable change of attire from scene to scene; I couldn't imagine why she would have preferred to be dressed to the nines at a desert outpost while under potential attack. One thing I haven't seen before occurred when the Apaches fired on the station; a fire arrow entering it neatly pinned the sleeve of Miss Kendrick's dress to the wall in a remarkable feat of accuracy. I'm sure the Apache wasn't even trying.

Making a late appearance in the story was an unusually grim looking Hugh O'Brian in the role of Ann Kenyon's husband. Seeing as how she ditched him for two other guys in the story hoping to make her escape, I'd say he had a right to be upset. A couple years shy of his role as Marshal Wyatt Earp in the classic TV series of the mid-Fifties, it occurred to me that between the three principals, McNally, Marlowe and O'Brian, the movie could have been made with any of them in each other's role.
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4/10
Battle of wills at a stage depot
NewEnglandPat25 July 2003
This minor western spins the familiar theme of the U.S cavalry's attempt to return Indians to their reservation or face punitive measures. There's nothing new here at all and the thin story line has more to do with marital strife than cavalry-Indian hostilities. Most of the picture takes place at a stage depot where the troopers manage to capture a chief and hold him as a bargaining chip for their safe passage through the Indian lines. The action consists of long range rifle shots and Indian fire arrows, but the movie has more dialogue than action. The besieged whites display more resolve than the Indians in settling the dispute, which results in a rather predictable ending. Stephen McNally stars as a sheriff and has a good supporting cast including Julie Adams, Hugh O'Brian and Jack Kelly, but the weak plot spoils what could have been a decent western adventure.
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