Pawnee (1957) Poster


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Cliched Fifties Oater
mlefkowitz19 May 2001
Pawnee is a cliche ridden mid-fifties Western made bearable by a good cast, professional direction, and some decent scenery. George Montgomery stars as a white man raised by the Pawnee Indians who must decide whether to remain an Indian and become chief of the Pawnee nation or return to his roots and save a wagon train from an Indian attack. The basic premise is old hat, and the film is loaded with stock characters includng the wise old Indian chief who seeks peace with the whites and the younger, violent war-mongering chief who seeks to kill the settlers (and his long despised white "brother" and rival Goerge Montgomery), the kindly and wise wagon train doctor, the wagon master who also becomes a rival of Montgomery for the love of a whte woman, a crusty, but lovable old coot of a settler, and so on. The film is juvenile and simplistic, but is watchable thanks to a good cast of old pros, fast and knowing direction, and excellent color photography of the scenic west. George Montgomery was a solid, leading man in many westerns of the fifties, and turns in his typically solid performance as the hero here. He is ably supported by such stalwarts of fifties westerns as Robert Griffin, Francis McDonald, Dabbs Greer, and Bill Williams. Lola Albright, an excellent, but underrated actress who later costarred on TV's Peter Gunn, gives a good performance as a yong woman traveling with the wagon train, who comes between Bill Williams, the wagon master, and Montgomery. It is noted that the lead Indian parts are played by caucasion actors and Native Americans are used almost exclusively as extras. The direction is by George Waggner, who directed the Wolfman and other horror films at Universal in the forties. Waggner is an old pro who moves the script along quickly and makes the cliches bearable while keeping the cast from going over the top in roles that could have easily become laughable. There is nothing new here, but it is a competent film which should mildly entertain western fans and youngsters who have never sat through a western programmer from the fifties.
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Insulted or flattered
bkoganbing3 January 2013
After watching this film I thought back to 1957 when this film first came out and I wonder if anyone noticed that Pawnee was a remake of The Ten Commandments set in the old west. I guess that Paramount thought that Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures which was on its uppers at that time had nothing worth suing over.

George Montgomery plays a man who was raised by the Pawnee after his white parents were killed. At least that explained those baby blue eyes that Burt Lancaster in Apache and Chuck Connors in Geronimo couldn't explain. He's the adopted son of Chief Ralph Moody, favored so much so that blood kin Charles Horvath is jealous. Montgomery is even moving in on Charlotte Austin the Indian maid set to marry the chief to be.

It's Moody's wish that Montgomery go among his own race and see how they live and how the Pawnee can adapt in their world. Which he does by taking a job as wagon train scout for a wagon train headed by Bill Williams. And then Montgomery catches the eye of his girl Lola Albright.

I think you can see the similarities and the final climax between the Pawnees, settlers, and cavalry is the parting of the Red Sea and it all ends romantically as it did for Moses.

Pawnee is a below par western that has me wondering if Cecil B. DeMille was insulted or flattered.
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Poseidon-318 August 2003
This is just one in a huge string of westerns that Montgomery made over the course of his career. This one, however, falls pretty near the bottom of the heap in quality and prestige. In it, Montgomery plays a white man raised by Indians. (Hilariously, even though he has been reared among the Native Americans his entire life, his hair isn't as long as theirs and it's parted on the side just as it would be in any other film, but with two braided pig tails down either side!) Soon after he saves Albright and her crusty father from his own people's attack, he decides to rejoin the white race. This agonizing adjustment consists of him wiping off his face paint, removing the faux ponytails and changing clothes.......VOILA! He's white! Through plot contrivance, he winds up as the scout for Albright's wagon train (which is chock full of annoying stock characters who are shown in long shots knocking violently over rugged terrain, yet in the close-ups are barely rocking on a static, stationary prop wagon!) Chief among the silly characters is a frail, ancient pioneer wife who is pregnant with her first child. She is shown in shawls, etc...but occasionally can be seen in cinch-waisted dresses which reveal no belly yet gives birth right after! She and Freeman (later famous for her comedic gifts) and Albright (who still looked human at this stage in her career before turning her skin brown and her hair white) take time out from getting slaughtered by the Indians to buy themselves some new dresses in a nearby town. "Little House on the Prairie" fans will recognize the pregnant lady's husband as the Reverend from the later TV series. Eventually, Montgomery finds himself caught in the middle of the distrusting wagon train participants and his Indian family (incited by a particularly irritable "brother" who is out for blood.) All of the battle sequences are lifted from another film. This is ludicrously brought home when the screen is filled with epic numbers of settlers and warriors but the stars are behind a rock or off to the side watching! Unless it is to poke fun at the sorriness of the production, there's not much reason to watch, though Montgomery does display a still fit figure during some of his scenes as a Pawnee (notably in a "washing up" shot as observed by Albright.)
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A Basic Western
Uriah437 May 2019
This film begins with a wagon train heading west and directly through the land controlled by the Pawnee. As it so happens, one wagon in particular has lagged behind the others and is subsequently attacked by a Pawnee named "Crazy Fox" (Charles Horvath) who shoots an arrow into an older settler by the name of "Uncle Tip Alden" (Francis McDonald) before setting fire to the wagon and riding off with the livestock. Fortunately, another Pawnee named "Pale Arrow" (George Montgomery) happens to come along right afterward and surgically removes the arrow from Uncle Tip's shoulder and then takes him and his daughter "Meg Alden" (Lola Albright) to the edge of where the rest of the wagons have camped for the night. Not long afterward their only scout decides to quit and so with nobody else available to guide them through the Pawnee territory they accept the offer of a stranger who agrees to help them out. What they don't know is that this stranger is none other than Pale Arrow who may or may not have an ulterior motive. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this was a basic Western which, quite frankly, covered all of the bases if nothing else. Having said that, viewers looking for something to occupy themselves with for an hour or two could do worse and for that reason I have rated it accordingly.
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Pale arrow saves the day
coltras352 April 2021
An average western with the expected stock footage ( it's probably on the lower end of the B-budget) and some laboured pace, however, as per 1950's oaters, there's some juvenile charm in the cartoony dialogue (" he Pale arrow will die", well something like that), and it's a good time pass.

Could've been better with George Montgomery's character ( a paleface brought up by the Pawnee gets inspired to leave his people after saving Lola Albright and her father and join the wagon train so he can learn about his people, and consequently he saves the day) being conflicted between the white folk and the people who brought him up. The clash between Pale Arrow ( Montgomery) and the crazy fox is quite stirring.
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Pretty chintzy, even for a George Montgomery western
fredcdobbs517 December 2019
George Montgomery didn't make particularly good westerns--like a lot of other western stars he was tall, good-looking,rode a horse fairly well, and was a strapping physical specimen, but he jut didn't that "something" that set him apart from the rest of the crowd. He did make a few better-than-average westerns--1951's "The Texas Rangers" fits that description--but for the most part his stuff was for the lower half of a double bill, ceaplly ade in black and white for low-rent outfit like Allied Artists or some independent ocmpany, and one was pretty much like the next. THere are two things that set this one apart, however--(1) it's in color and (2) it has Lola Albright. Like many of his westerns, it's cheaply shot, even though it's in color, and is cursed with a surfeit of stock footage, of which doesn't match the "new" footage. Fortunately, the new footage also contains Lola Albrught, who, even in a long skirt and loose blouse, is incredibly sexy, with that smoky, almost growling voice of hers in full loom, and she's atually thle best part orf the picture. The plot is one that has been done a million times before--white boy's parents die, he is raised by Indians, complications ensue--and better, but Albright is pretty much the oly reason to watch this. Stony-faced Charles Horvath plays--as he has done many times before--a villainous Indian warrior (although he's actually Hungarian), veteran character actor Ralplh Moody plays--as he has many times brfore--a kindly old Indian chief, George Waggner directed and co-wrote the script (and didn't do particularly well i either department).

The film's cheapness shows through at every turn, and overall it's just a fair way to spend an hour or so, but not much more than that.
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Below average Western
bux14 May 2002
Despite a veteran cast, this one just doesn't make the grade. The script is routine at best, and most of the location and action scenes are nothing more than stock footage, most of it gleaned from "Buffalo Bill" (1944). Ms. Albright can almost always lift a B picture to the status of "watchable" however, here she is reduced to nothing more than window dressing between old stock footage action scenes. Pass on this one.
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LeonLouisRicci4 August 2021
The Images are Bright and Colorful and the B-Cast is Strong.

However the Repeating Emphasis on Family, Child-Bearing and the Like,

Overwhelms what Little this Exercise in Cookie-Cutter Film-Making has to Offer.

It's Inoffensive White-Bread Population Control.

Even the Central Character George Montgomery's "Pale Arrow" Story is of Growing-Up into the Man He has Become in Search of His White Roots.

The Action is Minimal and the Extended Battles are Lifted from Other Films.

The Movie Offers Not Much More than Time-Killer Eye-Candy.

A Lot of it Takes Place on Fake-Looking Sets with Squeaky-Clean Clothes with Cliched Characters and Dialog Coming-Off as "American Family Pamphlet" Guide.

If there's Such a Thing as Typical "Cut-Corners" B-Western Formula, this is it.

Not Much to See Here...Only the Cast and Color are...

Worth a Watch.
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