11 user 2 critic

Pillars of the Sky (1956)

Approved | | Action, Western | 30 December 1956 (UK)
In 1868 Oregon, when the Army violates the treaty by building a road across the reservation, several tribal chiefs decide to unite their forces against the trespassing whites.


George Marshall


Sam Rolfe (screenplay), Heck Allen (novel) (as Will Henry)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeff Chandler ... First Sgt. Emmett Bell
Dorothy Malone ... Calla Gaxton
Ward Bond ... Dr. Joseph Holden
Keith Andes ... Capt. Tom Gaxton
Lee Marvin ... Sgt. Lloyd Carracart
Sydney Chaplin ... Timothy
Willis Bouchey ... Col. Edson Stedlow
Michael Ansara ... Kamiakin
Olive Carey ... Mrs. Anne Avery
Charles Horvath ... Sgt. Dutch Williams
Orlando Rodriguez Orlando Rodriguez ... Malachi
Glen Kramer Glen Kramer ... Lt. Winston
Floyd Simmons ... Lt. Hammond
Pat Hogan ... Jacob
Felix Noriego Felix Noriego ... Lucas


In Oregon Country, 1868, several tribes of Native Americans have been placed on a reservation north of the Snake River. Here Doctor Holden has built a church, and many of the tribes have accepted Christianity and Christian names. Sgt. Emmett Bell is in charge of maintaining order here. When the cavalry, under the command of Col. Stedlow, arrives, building a bridge across the river and intending to open a road across the reservation to areas north, some of the tribal chiefs feel their treaty has been violated. As the cavalry column advances into the reservation, Kamiakin vows to lead the tribes in battle against the encroaching white men. Written by Jeff Hole <jeffhole@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The story of a people's faith and the courage of a man they called Godless!


Action | Western


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

30 December 1956 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Dem Tode entronnen See more »

Filming Locations:

Wallowa Lake, Oregon, USA See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,500,000, 31 December 1956
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


During the shooting, between takes, Ward Bond once argued to Lee Marvin that the United States should attack the Soviet Union because of the communist threat. As a Marine Corp vet fighter in the Pacific, Marvin asked Bond where he was during WW2. And he pointed out that the only thing that Bond knew about combat was back lot of the studios. See more »


During the big battle the Colonel orders that cannon #1 be fired. When fired the cannon did not show any recoil. The force of the firing should have sent the cannon back on its wheels a bit. When Cannon #2 was fired there was too much smoke to say it did not recoil. See more »


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Bugle Calls
Composer unknown
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User Reviews

Pretty good western chronicles a strong fight between the Indian tribes and the US cavalry in Oregon territory
23 March 2017 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

This is the story of Sgt. Emmet Bell (Jeff Chandler) who found his weakness in the arms of another man's woman (Dorothy Malone) and his strength in the power of another man's God . In Oregon Country , 1868 , numerous tribes of Native Americans with Biblic and Evangelist names have been placed on a reservation north of the Snake River . Here a priest called Holden (War Bond) , has constructed a church , and many of the tribes have accepted Christianity and Christian names such as Samuel , Aaron , Abraham , Jacob ; in fact , the three Indian chiefs hold Christian names : Elias , Isaias and Zacarias . But the White Men are building a bridge that across the river to Indian territory to areas north . When the cavalry, under the command of Col. Stedlow (Willis Bouchey) and Capt. Tom Gaxton (Keith Andes) arrive they intend to make peace but the tribal chiefs feel their treaty has been violated . As the cavalry column advances into the reservation , Kamiakin (Michael Ansara) carries out razzias against the US Cavalry and settlements .

A-Universal-International-Picture gets Western action , shootouts , a triangular love story , breathtaking Indian raids on Yankees regiments and results to be quite entertaining . This moving movie is an epic portrait of the thrilling story about several tribal chiefs decide to unite their forces against the trespassing whites who open a road across the reservation and are building a bridge crossing their lands . It's a medium budget film with good actors , technicians , production values and pleasing results . At the ending , when takes place the Indian assault , possesses all the sweep , grandeur and noisy action of the greatest Westerns of an age long past . The picture contains spectacular charges of Indian riders , including an overwhelming final when the US soldiers are besieged at a church turned into a strongly defended fort . Nice acting from a great cast . As Jeff Chandler is good as a honorable and Cristian Sergeant who is in charge of maintaining order and attempts to keep the peace between US cavalry and Indians . Chandler gives stature to the role , providing sincerity and bravura . Chandler was famous , until his early death , for playing Indian chief Cochise , a dignified portrait well shown in : ¨Broken arrow¨ , ¨Battle of Apache Pass¨ and ¨Taza , son of Cochise¨ . Although Chandler also played all kinds of genres , such as : ¨Return to Peyton Place¨(drama) , ¨Flame of Araby¨ (adventure) , ¨Merrill's marauders¨ (wartime , in his last film) , until his early death at 42-year-old . Dorothy Malone as gorgeous and pleasant wife , proves to be a great actress , as usual . And support cast is frankly excellent , such as : Ward Bond , Keith Andes , Lee Marvin , Sydney Chaplin, Olive Carey and special mention for the veteran Willis Bouchey as well as Michael Ansara as violent Indian chief vowing to lead the tribes in battle against the encroaching white men . This exciting and stirring Western was beautifully photographed in Cinemascope , print in Technicolor by Harold Lipstein , Universal's ordinary cameraman. And an original and shining score from William Lava and Heinz Roemheld , though uncredited .

This motion picture was professionally directed by George Marshall in colorful style , though has a few flaws . He realized a great number of films , especially Westerns . His first Western was ¨Wild Gold¨(1934) and he subsequently directed ¨Destry rides again¨ with James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich in which years later he would make a remake titled ¨Frenchie¨ with Audie Murphy and Marie Blanchard . As George Marshal introduces hilarious elements and amusement in his Westerns , such as ¨Texas¨ , ¨Fancy pants¨, ¨Advance to the rear¨, and also directs Musical Westerns as ¨Red Garters¨ and ¨The second greatest sex¨ . Being particularly known for his co-direction of the epic Western ¨How the west was won¨ along with Henry Hathaway and John Ford .

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