In Wyoming Territory, army Major Ives and his men are building a temporary camp. The civilian surveyor, Mr. Keats is making preparations for the construction of a large permanent fort. However, the future fort is being erected on Cheyenne lands, in defiance of the treaty. Adam Reed is a self employed scout with friendly ties to the Cheyenne. Upset about the construction of the new fort on their lands, the Cheyenne ask scout Reed to contact Major Ives and deliver their message of grievance to him. The symbolic message consists of a yellow tomahawk as a warning against the building of a new fort in the area. Reed delivers the warning message to Major Ives but he is not taken serious. Major Ives lectures Reed about the need of bringing civilization to the lands that otherwise would go to waste under the savages. Reed retorts that Major Ives' only duty is to escort wagon trains of settlers passing through Cheyenne territory rather than build new forts in violation of the treaty. Reed also...Written by
The 1950s was the decade of the message western, and this is a low budget version of the genre. But don't let the low budget (or the deterioration of the film negative) scare you away. This story about a bloody confrontation that is the direct result of a barbarous US general's attempt to occupy Indian lands is surprisingly brutal, sympathetic to the native Americans, and much more cynical about the inherent decency of those in power than one would expect from a movie from this era. Yes, if you look, you will find ample and annoying western movie clichés. Rory Calhoun and Rita Moreno are the recognizable stars here -- and they are playing types, rather than roles. (Rory is the scout raised by the native Americans, who is conflicted. Rita Moreno has an obnoxious role as the cute native American who has attached herself to Rory's Mexican sidekick). The reason to watch is plot, pacing, and, yes, the ending that you will not predict.
Note. The film was shot in color, but TCM broadcast it in black and white. This looks like a film in bad need of restoration, particularly as much of it was shot against sagebrush that was actually in bloom.
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