A trapper and his two partners work as scouts for a remote army fort where they witness an incompetent colonel's decision to throw his small unprepared garrison against Red Cloud's sizable Sioux force.
Crude and uncivilized backwoods trapper Jed Cooper and his two partners sign up as scouts in a remote Oregon army fort, manned chiefly by untrained rookie soldiers. Jed, flirting with the idea of leading a more settled life, decides he needs a woman to start the process, and selects Corinna Marston, the beautiful young wife of Colonel Marston, commander of the next fort down the line. Marston arrives and announces to commanding officer Captain Riordan that he has lost his fort and most of his men to an Indian attack and that he, as ranking officer, is assuming command. Riordan, a young, but sensible officer, is outraged when he learns that Marston, posted out west for having lost his 1500-man command during a Civil War battle, has ordered the entire fort's complement, totally unprepared for combat and outnumbered, to march out against experienced Indian warriors.Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Victor Mature made this for Columbia while renegotiating his contract with 20th Century Fox. His salary was $200,000. See more »
When Jed Cooper pulls the lookout Indian down from his perch with a lasso, the Indian is wearing a captured soldier's blue jacket, then when Jed kills the Indian with a knife, the jacket is off one arm. A long sleeve jacket like that cannot just fall off one arm without deliberately removing it. See more »
Victor Mature plays Jed Cooper, a rough-and-tumble mountain man, ostensibly in need of a few social graces, who, along with his two companions, is hired on as a civilian guide at the local army installation, a fort on the edge of nowhere. He wants two things: a soldier's uniform, and commander Col. Frank Marsden's wife, Corinna (a blonde Anne Bancroft). She isn't altogether turned off. Her husband has been shuffled as far west as possible by the Army to escape his quaint reputation as the "butcher of Shiloh". A sizable native army, just beyond the fort, is waiting. Marsden dismisses them as stupid savages with no concept of military strategy, then falls into one of their bear traps.
"The Last Frontier" is about civilization and what it means to be civilized. Jed is an outsider and he wants to belong. For him, to be civilized is to wear a uniform and to attain domesticity. He grapples hard with this civilization thing and learns that there are some confounding complexities. Col. Marsden flaunts the veneer of civilization, but he's a rule-toting bully.
I've probably said too much already, but I love the dry, adult westerns of Anthony Mann. For all his tackling of a complex theme Mann doesn't forget the action scenes. The climactic Indian attack is exciting, with the dust that's whipped up providing a nice visual touch, and Jed's one-on-one fight with a Marsden flunkie is raw and brutal. The fort in this movie appears to be authentic and detailed, and we get to see its layout. Victor Mature's performance as a rough frontiersman is well realized and convincing, a far cry from the oiled-up Samson wrestling a stuffed lion in a certain Cecil B. De Mille soaper. A special nod to Guy Madison for his portrayal of a sane, all-round nice guy. This is hardly a "lesser" Mann picture. It's up there among his best.
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