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Peculiar Western with violent and tense scenes masterfully directed by Samuel Fuller
ma-cortes6 August 2010
This is the story of an ex-confederate Army soldier , circa 1865 , it begins in Palm Sunday , April 9, 1865 Appomatox , Virginia , the last day of the war between the States . During surrender General Lee to the North commanded by General Ulyses S Grant at the end of the Civil War an ex-confederate soldier(Rod Steiger) does his choice , to see the Union killed his brothers , as he changes his life . He flees , meets , understands , joins and eventually becomes a member of a Sioux tribe , engaged in war against the white man . Meanwhile he befriends an Indian scout ex-soldier (J.C.Flippen) , marries an Indian woman (Sara Montiel) and adopts a kid . At the final of the movie is told a particular phrase : ¨The end of this story can only be written by you ¨.

It's an interesting and competent story with images tremendously exciting and tense and powerfully rough-edge moments . It depicts a thought-provoking perspective on the plight of native Americans and with scenes of epic proportions as the manhunt . The intriguing premise fails to satisfy completely but gets breathtaking moments as the human chase and Indian customs . This sometimes too objective film lacks a sense of definitive character undermining its important message . Overacting and distracting performance by Rod Steiger ; boasting a most restrained playing from Brian Keith, Sara Montiel , Charles Bronson and Ralph Meeker . Lively musical score by the classic Victor Young and colorful cinematography by Joseph Biroc who reflects splendidly the gorgeous scenarios.

In this picture Samuel Fuller proved his talent of vision and intelligence . Fuller made various Western as ¨I shot Jesse James(49)¨, ¨The baron of Arizona(50)¨, ¨Forty guns(58)¨, and ¨The meanest men in the West (76)¨ , but his most fluid and strongest work lies in his war films as ¨Steel helmet(51)¨ , ¨Fixed bayonets(52)¨, ¨Hell and high water (55)¨, ¨China gate (57)¨ , ¨Merrill's Marauders (62)¨ and ¨The Big Red One (80)¨. Rating : Better than average . Worthwhile watching .
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Strange and Flawed, but well worth seeing
julesfdelorme20 September 2017
RUN OF THE ARROW This Western is about as off the beaten path of classic Westerns as I think that you can get. Made by Samuel Fuller in 1957, Run of the Arrow is an odd and strange film. Fuller, and particularly his film Steel Helmet, has been cited as an influence by directors from Quentin Tarantino to Stanley Kubrick. Fuller was also known to be more than a little bit of a nut, and the closest thing that the studio system came to releasing independent film in those days. The premise of Run of the Arrow, a southern civil war veteran who decides, rather than live in the surrendered south that he'll go out west and living among the Sioux, is both original and strange. The dialogue is often overwrought and Rod Steiger, in the lead role often falls into Charles Laughton like overacting. Steiger could be a very good actor, with the right director to keep him in check, as in On the Waterfront, or the exquisite The Pawnbroker. Here he is not kept in check and the price paid is often ham handed delivery. The Indians of course are played by white men with spray on tans, which adds to the strange almost surreal quality of the film. One of those actors, the only one who does not seem to require a spray tan, is Charles Bronson as the Sioux Chief. Bronson's extreme muscularity seems somehow out of place in this period piece. His bulging biceps and ripped abs seem too modern at a time when people were still buying gimmicks from Charles Atlas ads (And let's face it, Atlas was anything but buff by today's standards.). (As a side note, I once had to audition for Bronson for one of his Death Wish movies. It was a second or third reading and the character was required to perform some martial arts. Bronson asked me how high I could kick. I said something cute like high enough. He walked up to me and asked me if I could kick above his head. I nodded. He wasn't that tall. He said "Show me.". So, without thinking I threw the kick. I remember that as I did I heard gasps from around the room that I would be crazy enough to do such a thing to a man who was still a pretty big star back then. Bronson, though, never blinked. He never took his eyes off of mine. And I remember thinking that, despite the fact that I had already been in more real fights than I could count, that this was no Hollywood actor. This was a hard man. And, despite his being in in his 60s at the time, I had the feeling that I would not want to mess with him. He shook my hand. He didn't squeeze, but I could feel this iron strength in his grip. I think I read somewhere that he had spent his youth as a coal miner. All this to say that this was had a very impressive presence...). Run of the arrow is a flawed and often melodramatic film. I know that all of this sounds like I'm not recommending it. But I am recommending it, for two reasons. First, if you are a lover of classic movies, and Westerns in particular, as I am, then Run of the Arrow is as different from the Westerns of its day as it could possibly be. And, second, as someone of native heritage, Run of the Arrow is the first film that I can think of, a rare film even by today' standards, in that the Native characters are the good guys, and it is white characters who are the bad guys. That alone makes Run of the Arrow, to me, more than worthy of seeing. It isn't perfect. It's very flawed. But it's not like any Western made in its day and its not like many Westerns made today. You may laugh at the wrong moments at times. But you'll probably remember Run of the Arrow long after you've forgotten more polished and well laid out classic movies. So I do recommend it. I recommend Run of the Arrow quite highly. Because it is strange. Because it is different. And because it tries to do something that far too few movies have to courage to do. It at least tries to be truly original. #movies #film #filmcritique #classicwesterns #runofthearrow #samfuller
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RUN OF THE ARROW (Samuel Fuller, 1957) ***
Bunuel197614 January 2009
Interesting, unusual Western to emerge during the genre's heyday given writer/director Fuller's typically uncompromising viewpoint. Starting off on the last day of the American Civil War, it deals with Southerner-of-Irish-descent Rod Steiger's inability to cope with defeat which sends him the way of the Sioux (the renowned Method actor, making a surprising third genre appearance in as many years, brings his customary intensity to the traditional Western canvas). After meeting up with renegade Indian Jay C. Flippen(!) and surviving the titular challenge, he's accepted by the Redskins and even lands himself a squaw (Sarita Montiel aka Mrs. Anthony Mann) and a mute foster-son; the latter is then involved in a startling sequence as, about to drown in quicksand, he's saved by a passing American horse soldier…except that he's rewarded for his good deed by falling headfirst into the slime himself! Steiger's past also comes back to haunt him at this point, with the arrival of the Cavalry (led by sympathetic Brian Keith and nasty Ralph Meeker – the latter was the last man to be shot during the war, by Steiger himself!) who want to build a fort in Sioux territory. Though the Indians (with Charles Bronson as Chief) desire peace, one of their number is a rebel and wages a one-man war against the whites…but Steiger has him do the 'Run Of The Arrow', which is then callously interrupted by Meeker. With Keith murdered by a Sioux arrow, the younger officer takes over command and, obstinately but unwisely, takes the unit further into Indian territory in search of a more strategic point for constructing. As Steiger's entreaty for surrender is rejected, the Cavalry are massacred (quite a violent scene for the time) – but Meeker is kept alive, since awaiting him is the fate allotted to those who willfully obstruct the 'run'. It's here, though, that Steiger draws the line for, whatever his feelings for Meeker personally, he can't bear to see his fellow man tortured: ironically, he uses the bullet he had shot him with originally, kept all along as a token, to end his ordeal. Looking on, Bronson – and, even more so, Montiel (voiced here by Angie Dickinson!) – realize that his place is with the white man after all; a wonderful scene has her throw the U.S. flag at Steiger and bringing him to admit that his home state of Virginia is equally represented on it. The concluding scene, then, has the surviving unit starting off to rejoin its ranks with Steiger (accompanied by his 'family') at the head.
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Like Ethan Edwards, Rod Steiger doesn't believe in surrenders
bkoganbing21 November 2011
Among the films giving a realistic and three dimensional portrait of the American Indians this item that stars Rod Steiger is curiously overlooked. Run Of The Arrow is a story about Confederate veteran who goes to live among the Sioux after Appomattox.

Like John Wayne's Ethan Edwards from The Searchers, Steiger doesn't believe in surrenders and won't accept the Union victory and domination over the south. But unlike Edwards Steiger's Clay O'Meara has no problem with the Sioux or any other Indians. He goes into their country and after passing a brutal initiation from the Indians with a little bit of help he's accepted into the tribe.

Eventually the Union blue reaches the Sioux country and Steiger is part of the negotiating team and guides the cavalry to land where they will build a fort safe from Indian hunting grounds. Extremists on both sides make the peace impossible, H.M. Wynant for the Sioux and Lieutenant Ralph Meeker for the whites. Eventually Steiger makes a choice and he faces a most uncertain future.

The Indians are nicely played albeit by white players such as Charles Bronson as the chief. Sarita Montiel of the Mexican cinema plays the Indian woman whom Steiger takes in wedlock. Brian Keith has a nice part as a sympathetic army captain. But who I would have liked to see more of are Olive Carey as Steiger's mother and Jay C. Flippen as the philosophical Indian scout who comes back to die among his people. I wish Flippen hadn't died so soon.

A certain kind of cosmic justice is meted out to one of the cast at the conclusion. You'll have to sit and enjoy watching Run Of The Arrow to know what I mean.
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One of the best openings ever. Then Steiger starts talking.
rick_711 June 2010
Run of the Arrow (Samuel Fuller, 1957) is an embryonic version of Dances With Wolves in director Sam Fuller's familiar tabloid style: short, flamboyantly written and with the best stuff right at the top. It begins on Palm Sunday, 1865, "the last day of the war between the states", with Fuller taking us to the very heart of the conflict via a mesmerising opening tracking shot. Corpses are strewn across the smoking landscape, where an unmanned cannon has fallen silent, smashed to pieces. An air of desperation and exhaustion hangs heavy over the action. A Yankee soldier on a knackered horse staggers towards some unknown, meaningless destination. A shot rings out and he slumps to the ground. A Confederate infantryman (Rod Steiger) lowers his gun and moves forward. Ransacking the man's pockets, he finds a food parcel and begins eating the spoils off the dying man's stomach. That line from The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down comes to mind: "We were hungry, just barely alive." Having had his fill, Steiger straps the man to the guy's own horse, and takes him to a field hospital. It's a brilliant intro. But then Steiger starts talking and the film goes downhill.

Accents are a funny thing. It's nice when someone gets a voice down pat, but it often feels like window-dressing. And illogical window-dressing at that, since Nazis don't generally converse with one another in heavily-accented English. Jimmy Stewart gave a great performance in The Shop Around the Corner without attempting a Hungarian accent, and Claude Rains was a fitting French captain in Casablanca despite his distinctive English tones. Keeping your own accent also means you avoid taking a road to supposed 'authenticity' that's full of pitfalls. A terrible voice can sink a film, or at least prove a major distraction, and that's the case here. Playing a second-generation Irish immigrant fighting for the Confederacy, who finds a new home with the Sioux, Steiger opts for an accent that can best be described as 'South Asian Norwegian'. Perhaps he was confused about playing an honorary Indian, because no matter how bold and progressive the film is, offering an insightful look at Sioux customs, it still has a hero who sounds like a sort of Slumdog John Qualen. By d'yevil.

Such self-satisfied broadsides aside (I'm sorry, I really do like Fuller), Run of the Arrow turns out alright. The titular rite-of-passage - which sees Steiger forced to outpace some rampaging Sioux, or else find a new skin - is exciting and well-paced, with an intelligent follow-up in the second half. Fuller's much-celebrated focus on the feet during that sequence was actually enforced by Steiger's sore ankle, but elsewhere there's some strong direction that makes the most of several ambitious, realistic sets. Steiger is periodically effective, even hampered by that ridiculous voice, with Ralph Meeker perfectly cast as his main nemesis - a cigar-chomping Indian-hater - and Brian Keith an effective moral yardstick, though the rest of the cast is largely nondescript. The interesting, well-researched portrait of the Native American lifestyle is ultimately overtaken by a drawn-out action climax that begins effectively, with an interesting subversion of Western folklore that sees the Indians riding to the rescue, but frankly goes on a bit. Fuller's script also lacks clarity, even when dealing with his favourite theme of redemption, which is very unusual for this filmmaker.

In the end, Run of the Arrow is a fascinating, admirably ambitious film, but it's a long way from being a classic, with confused plotting and an inability to build on its fascinating opening scenes. On this evidence, it's a damn shame that Fuller never made a full Civil War picture, as he seems ideally suited to the material. But then again, every Fuller film starts and ends with a bang, and though John Ford's 21-minute section of How the West Was Won ('The Civil War') is extraordinary, his feature-length treatment of the conflict he remained so obsessed with, The Horse Soldiers, is a shambles.

Trivia note: This was the first movie to use blood squibs. No Run of the Arrow, no Wild Bunch. A small price to pay for that peculiar thing Steiger is doing with his larynx.
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The film that danced with wolves first
The_Void4 September 2004
Run of the Arrow is the 50's equivalent of 'Dances with Wolves', so if you wanted to watch Dances with Wolves in the 50's, you had to watch this. That's not such a bad thing, however, as although this film isn't brilliant; it's better than Dances with Wolves. The story follows the adventures of Pvt. O'Meara (portrayed impressively by Rod Steiger), a soldier on the losing side of the American Civil war. He is dismayed by his side joining with the other side at the end of war, and he wants no part of the unified American nation. So, he travels south to the land of savages, because "at least they have pride". On the way to the south, he meets up with a renegade Sioux Indian scout and he finds an admiration for the Sioux culture. He later becomes the first man to beat the 'run of the arrow', and finds himself taking a squire and being accepted into their tribe.

The visuals are gritty and fairly brutal. There is also lots on offer in the way of entertainment: the scene in which our hero beats the run of the arrow is well filmed and exciting, which is just the way it should be. Aside from this, the movie also features a quicksand scene, a near skinning alive sequence and a great Americans vs. Indians battle scene. It also stays entertaining all the through, and that is much to the movie's credit; it's something that Dances with Wolves couldn't manage anyway. The film also features two great actors, which very much impress. The aforementioned Rod Steiger is the first, who takes the lead role. Although he doesn't ever set the screen on fire, he is always believable in his role, and that is enough. Aside from Steiger, the film also features the talents of the very talented Charles Bronson as a Sioux Indian.

The story is nothing new for those who have seen films like Dances with Wolves, or Witness; but remember, this film predates both of those by nearly thirty years, so it's not unoriginality on the part of this. In fact, my only major criticism of the film is that it's under-ambitious. It never really gets under the skin of it's story, and that is a loss to the film as if it had have done; it would have been a more well rounded film. Smaller criticisms are that it's very short, and related to that; the ending feels very rushed and doesn't really satisfy the viewer. Still, The Run of the Arrow is a classic film and one that should not be missed by anyone lucky enough to see it.
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A bloody little Western in the accustomed Fuller vein of unpleasantness...
Nazi_Fighter_David26 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Run of the Arrow" has an ex-Civil War soldier taking an Indian wife (Sarita Montiel) and here the Indians are less idealized…

Steiger, deserter from the Southern cause, is a highly credible character, tough and able to effect a compromise with the Sioux until he finds one aspect of the culture he can't stomach, let alone assimilate—that of skinning a captive alive…

He still, however, rides out of the picture with his Indian wife alongside…

Whether she will assimilate what she finds in a different culture remains unanswered…

The film remains a bloody little Western in the accustomed Fuller vein of unpleasantness...
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Run to This Movie
Richie-67-48585222 November 2017
Most excellent Western with a unique set of ingredients all designed to entertain and give rise to several emotions. This one has so much going on too. Indians, their culture, US Calvary, horses, dust, whiskey, civil war, forts, good and bad guys and a love story all done very well. This movie has part Last of the Mohicans, The Naked Prey and a mix of several other familiar themes scene in many Westerns over the years. Their are several highlights worthy to mention. The feelings of the South after losing the war dialog is potent and accurate so listen up. Great scene of Lee surrendering to Grant (with tears) and respect on all sides. then there is the Indian way, their beliefs and point of view. If that is not enough, the US Calvary wants to develop the West and set up forts and approaches the subject humbly. This movie had me riveted to the screen as there was so much going all entertaining that I didn't want it to end. Even the end music played out very well helping you to accept the ending. Good movie to eat beef jerky, a sandwich and a tasty drink. Also worth mentioning is all your favorite and familiar TV and movie stars are in this one looking and sounding good earning their paychecks as well as all being destined for long careers too. Run of the Arrow...thank you to all involved here. Mount-up
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Solid Sam Fuller entry
bru-525 September 2004
No one ever accused Sam Fuller of being a run-of-the-mill Hollywood dream merchant. Run of the Arrow is fairly typical of the noted director-writer's work, applying his thinking man's approach to a well-established genre; in this case, the western. Touching on the moral conflicts of the Civil War as well as the uneasy truce between the white man and the Native American, the movie centers on a disillusioned Confederate (Rod Steiger)trying to find his place in a world in which he has cast himself as an outsider.

Fuller handles the visuals and the action sequences with as much confidence as the more intimate sequences of Steiger trying to immerse himself into the culture of the Sioux after what he feels is the humiliating defeat of the Confederate forces to the Union. While he lacks is the poetic sweep of a John Ford, Fuller is refreshingly unsentimental and takes pains to establish the subtlety of the characters and their conflicts.

Still, it is by no means a perfect movie, undermined by the dreadful miscasting of Rod Steiger in the starring role. Although a highly skilled actor who has often excelled at portraying multi-dimensional, morally ambiguous characters, Steiger seems out-of-place as a Confederate renegade and his Irish brogue only calls attention to his uneasiness. Fuller barely shows any interest in fleshing out the relationship between Steiger and the Indian squaw he marries, casting a nondescript and unappealing actress for the love interest. But Brian Keith and Ralph Meeker are excellent as the Union officers, one kindly, the other oozing villainy from every pore.

The movie is a natural for fans of adult, upper-scale westerns (a la The Gunfighter, Shane, etc.) while the more action-oriented buffs won't feel entirely left out either.
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Much better than similar 'Dances With Wolves'
amolad18 December 2000
Jaw-droppingly similar to DANCES WITH WOLVES in story and overall theme, this is a clearer, simpler, shorter, and in every way better movie. Fuller is one of the most visual, cinematic directors who ever worked, and he starts with a premise that is itself utterly visual: Steiger, a Southerner at the end of the Civil War, is so alienated now with both the North and the South that he does the only thing he can -- head West. And so he does, eventually finding himself caught between another war of cultures -- the Indian vs the white man.

Like all of Fuller's movies, this one is hard-hitting, brutal, emotional and stimulating. It does not sentimentalize the Indians or offer any easy choices for its characters. This is one of Fuller's rare pictures -- not often shown on TV -- but it is highly recommended.
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An ex-rebel without a cause
NewEnglandPat26 March 2003
This oater is a rather gory affair of a bitter ex-rebel's quest to put the Civil War behind him. The Confederate soldier heads west and decides that life among the Plains Indians is preferable to being a citizen of the United States after the war. Rod Steiger was probably the best actor to play the unreconstructed southerner in this grim cavalry-Indian western. The unhappy southerner finds companionship with an Indian maiden in his adopted tribe and harbors as much hatred for the soldiers as do the Indians. The film starts slowly but finds its own groove and delivers fine action sequences although some scenes are not for the squeamish. Brian Keith, Ralph Meeker, Charles Bronson and Frank de Kova are good in supporting roles. Pretty Mexican actress Sarita Montiel pairs up with O'Meara's but her overall effect is diminished by the obvious dubbing of her voice.
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Three dimensional
drystyx21 October 2012
Steiger plays a Reb who won't surrender, but unlike Ethan of "The Searchers", he embraces the native American culture when he loses his own country.

We get a great adventure story here, with shades of the searchers, the Naked Prey, Dances with wolves, and long before those films were made.

More important, we get three dimensional characters. Even the two "heavies", one from each culture, are depicted with added dimensions. They are cruel, but their cruelty is motivated. They aren't "rebels without a cause". Indeed, what we see is "rebel with a cause" throughout.

There is much one could say to endorse this film, but I feel that would spoil it. What sticks out is how many of the characters behave in "humane" ways, even when they're expected not to, from both sides. Charles Bronson and Rod Steiger portray characters you feel actually existed, who mirror each other, and come to understand each other. The way this unfolds is amazing in script and directing, as well as acting.

This is action packed, but also thought provoking drama. You could put this on a stage and get much the same reaction, but it works great in cinema, too.
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Top-flight western, highlighted by a fine cast and direction
bux19 October 1998
Raw-edged western drama, concerning a Southern vet that has turned his back on his country, to live with Sioux Indians. It would appear that decades later, "Dances With Wolves" would borrow liberally from this story-line. Steiger speaks with an interesting Irish brogue, that does not seem out of place. Good supporting cast, with Brian Keith, and the always under-rated but superb Meeker as the baddie. Considering when it was made, this is a grim, realistic peek at the old west.
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Another Sizzling Sam Fuller Movie That Just Cooks
LeonLouisRicci5 May 2014
Director/Writer Sam Fuller Always had a lot on His Mind and He wasn't going to let Hollywood or a Low-Budget Stop Him. His Movies are Unique, Interesting, and Entertaining. This One is No Exception, in Fact it is Exceptional. Showing itself to be one of the Best in the Glut of 1950's Westerns, if Anything it is Ambitious to a Fault.

The Film can Hardly Contain all the Thoughts and Impressions that Fuller Included, but it is a Glorious Time Watching this Exciting, Rich, and Colorful Story that Has more Authenticity and Audacity in its Short Running Time than a John Ford Trilogy.

Rod Steiger's Miscasting that at Times Feels so out of Place, cannot Stop the Movie from Relentlessly Reeling Out Scene After Visceral Scene, with Near Naked, Painted-Up, and Red Skinned Indians with Dialog so Cooked that the Film is Danger of Boiling Over on Occasion. But it Quickly Moves to Another Bloody Set-Piece of Suspense and Action to Counter-Point the Dense Dialog.

Ralph Meeker, Brian Keith, J.C. Flippen, Charles Bronson, and Sara Monteil all Contribute to the Movie's Presence. It is a Violent, Thoughtful, and Even Handed Western with Strains of Southern Post War Resentment, Native American Plight, Religious Tolerance, Traditional Rituals, some Brutal Nastiness, an Atypical Ending and More. All Packed in this B-Movie that is as Good as it gets in the Fifties and is Another Feather in the Oversized Sam Fuller Cap.
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Run of the Arrow, much more than a run of the mill film.
rogerblake-281-71881924 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Samuel Fuller's near masterpiece.The film starts on Palm Sunday 1865 at Appomattox.Confederate Private O'Meara shoots down a mounted Union officer.While rifling through his pockets O'Meara realises he is still alive.In an act of mercy he takes him to a Confederate dressing station.Close by General Lee is surrendering to General Grant.O'Meara is about to shoot Grant when the surgeon tells him he had better shoot Lee as well because the shame would kill him.He then hands O'Meara the bullet he has extracted from the wounded officer telling him it is the last bullet fired in this war (historically incorrect).Back home his friend has the bullet remade and presents it to O'Meara. O'Meara is an unreconstructed Rebel and his Mother suggests a rope is the only answer for him. O'Meara played by Rod Steiger sports an accent that can only be described as Hollywood Irish,strangely his mother played by Olive Carey has no trace of an Irish accent at all.He decides to head west where there is no Yankee jurisdiction incidentally riding the horse he has "liberated" from the Union officer.He meets up with an elderly renegade Indian,Walking Coyote,played by J.C.Flippen in a scene stealing cameo,who tells O'Meara that he could have been a chief but he couldn't stand the politics.In five minutes screen time O'Meara learns the Sioux language,tribal history and customs. Unfortunately they are captured by the Sioux led by Crazy Wolf.O'Meara is about to discover another old Sioux custom,that of being skinned alive,when Walking Coyote invokes The Run of the Arrow where you are given an arrows flight start made to run barefoot and then hunted to the death.The Indians agree.Walking Coyote drops dead from a heart attack on the run but O'Meara is made of sterner stuff.He's a hefty fellow but he has a turn of speed that an Olympic champion might envy.This is not far fetched as Confederate infantry men were known for their speed of march,usually barefoot,not for nothing were they known as foot cavalry.He loses his chasers and is rescued by a beautiful Indian maiden called Yellow Moccasin and her young companion Silent Tongue,a dumb Indian boy. Yellow Moccasin takes O'Meara to the Indian village where he informs the chief,Blue Buffalo played by Charles Bronson,that he has survived the run of the arrow which Crazy Wolf begrudgingly confirms.O'Meara is told he will never be harmed by the Sioux.He then collapses with a fever.Yellow Maccasin volunteers to care for him and in a steamy scene (in more ways than one) uses body heat to sweat the fever out of him and also during the process he loses some of his inner demons. A fully fit O'Meara marries Yellow Moccasin adopts Silent Tongue as his son and is accepted into the Sioux nation while remaining a Christian.Blue Buffalo remarks tolerantly "Same God, different name". The U.S.Government want to build a fort on Sioux land so a big meeting is called between Sioux chiefs and U.S.Army officials.The General in charge played by Tim McCoy (in his last film role) humorously remarks to O'Meara that he has never shaken hands with an Irish Sioux before,O'Meara replies he's never shaken hands with a Yankee General either.Terms are agreed on the proviso that the Sioux have a representive to ensure the treaty is kept.Thats O'Meara's job. The officer in command Captain Clark played sympathetically by Brian Keith tells O'Meara that Appomattox was not the death of the South but the birth of the United States and when one of his troopers saves Silent Tongues life at the cost of his own by pulling him out of a swamp he remarks "We Yankees are human".Sadly this is not the case with the second in command played by Ralph Meeker who by coincidence is the same officer that O'Meara shot at the beginning of the film.Is he grateful? is he hell.He's more miffed about his horse.Captain Clark is then killed by renegade Sioux led by Crazy Wolf.Lt.Driscoll now in command and a bit of a glory hunter decides to build the fort in a forbidden area ignoring O'Meara's warning.O'Meara is beaten unconscious.When he comes to the Sioux are attacking,a brilliantly staged bloody scene. Driscoll has been kept alive and is suffering unmentionable tortures being skinned alive.O'Meara,in an act of common decency and using the same bullet shoots him again this time killing him instantly and saying "They had a right to kill him but not like that" He realises he can never truly be a Sioux and that he owes his allegiance to the United States. He,his wife ,his adopted son and the surviving troops are allowed to leave unmolested. The voice over repeats the earlier statement "Appomattox was not the death of the South but the birth of the United States" then a caption comes up which says "The end of this story can only be written by you". O'Meara,funny Irish accent and all is magnificent,he may be a blowhard about Yankee injustice but in reality he is an honourable,decent and humane man.Likewise Blue Buffalo comes across as a religiously tolerant man and you can sense his approval over O'Meara's act of decency. Mixed marriages with happy endings were a rare occurrence in films of the time,eg James Stuart's Indian wife gets killed in the film "Broken Arrow".Indian wives were more likely to be raped and killed by white bigots (off screen) their husbands then seeking bloody revenge.Richard Widmark's film The Last Wagon was a classic example. One hopefully happy ending was in the 1968 film The Undefeated where Rock Hudson's Confederate Colonel's daughter has a relationship with John Wayne's Union Colonel's adopted son a full blooded Indian,with full parental approval.
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Ahead of Its Time
dougdoepke1 June 2010
Think Western and Rod Steiger doesn't come to mind. But producer-director Fuller needed a first-rate actor for his complex story. So the New York trained Steiger got the part and is quite good too. Though I don't buy him out-racing the powerfully built Crazy Wolf (Wynant). This is an excellent Western, expertly cast and wonderfully staged. In fact, some of the scenic shots resemble Frederick Remington landscapes.

It's also a story of ideas. I like the way writer Fuller prepares us for O'Meara's (Steiger) act of mercy by having him cling to Christian beliefs though every other part of him has become Sioux Indian. Thus, when he shoots Lt. Driscoll (Meeker) to spare him further pain, we understand why. It's also the point at which O'Meara realizes he's inescapably American, Johnny Reb or not. On the other hand, why the Indian girl rashly saves O'Meara is never made clear. The movie's about alienation and belonging, and though I don't agree with all Fuller's points, he does get beyond the Western clichés of the period. Note, for example, how the tribe decides rather democratically whether to accept O'Meara as a Sioux. And though there are the usual plot contrivances to generate action, both peoples are shown as deserving respect.

Too bad the movie's so obscure. It's as broad in scope (first-rate locations and large cast, including real Indians), and is more thoughtful than John Ford's celebrated cavalry trilogy. I suspect one reason for the neglect is the unfortunate releasing tangle when the scheduled RKO went suddenly belly-up. The film ended up being released by low-budget Universal who likely dumped it without much promotion; at least, I don't recall any fanfare at the time. Thus, this independent production slipped into underground obscurity. Still and all, Fuller's film can also be seen as an important step on the way to such counter-cultural Westerns as Ulzana's Raid (1972), Little Big Man (1970), and the bloody The Wild Bunch (1969). Nonetheless, significances aside, it's still a darn entertaining movie.
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Exceptional Western (SPOILERS)
zetes3 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Perhaps not perfect, but I think Run of the Arrow is one of my favorite Westerns. I like it mainly because of the conflicted feelings of all the characters. I like when characters are unsure of themselves.

The film opens on the last day of the Civil War. Rod Steiger plays an Irish immigrant, now a Southern soldier, O'Meara. He's so angry that General Lee has surrendered, he aims his rifle at him as he passes by. Luckily someone convinces him not to pull the trigger, and he eventually wanders back to his home, utterly defeated. Everyone around him has lost their pride, and he can feel his fading fast. So he jumps on his horse, the one he stole from the last Union soldier whom he shot (but did not kill), the last soldier wounded in the war, and heads out West, which, unlike the South, is not part of "America." O'Meara quickly runs into an old Sioux, Walking Coyote, who was working as a scout for the Union Army and is about to head back to his own tribe. O'Meara doesn't like the fact that he worked for the Union Army, but he can't help it that he's an interesting person. He's interested in the Sioux himself, and wonders if he can join the tribe (as he knows that the Indians have constant conflicts with the Union).

I'm skipping over a huge plot point (whence comes the title), but eventually O'Meara is accepted as a member of the Sioux tribe, but he can never quite become one. He gets along fine with the tribe, but they don't look at him in the same way as they do fellow tribesmen. Even his wife (okay, squaw), who once saved his life, can't accept him as one of them, though she loves him very much.

Soon the United States Cavalry comes to the tribe, courting them in order to be able to build a fort. They seem peaceful enough, and O'Meara is chosen to scout for them, so that they won't build the fort anywhere where they will scare away bison. O'Meara is not happy to help the Union men, but he is obligated to do so. The captain of the outfit happens to be the man whom he shot at the beginning of the film, but he is completely kind to O'Meara, and also the Sioux, with whom he honestly wants to coexist peacefully. There is some nice dialogue between the two as the captain tries to get O'Meara to see things from other points of view. Unfortunately, a group of rebels from his tribe, assuming that the Cavalry cannot be acting honestly, attack and kill the captain. His second in command is much less forgiving to the Sioux (and his underlings are easily convinced that the whole tribe is deadly after the assassination that they witnessed), and a small war erupts, and neither side really wants to trust O'Meara, who seems to be halfway between the two groups, and certainly not a full member of either.

Here comes the climax, and there's no need to go into it in too much depth. The climactic sequence is well written, but, probably due to budget constraints, not well staged. It's okay, but the special effects and stunts aren't top notch (even when arrows hit men right in their bellies, only the tip goes in). There is a nice scene where a squib explodes when a man gets shot in the forehead, shocking to see in a film from 1957. I didn't think squibs even existed at the time, probably not until The Wild Bunch several years later. The film ends very well. In the dominant mood of the film, it leaves the audience with mixed feelings.

Out of the three Fuller films I've seen (including also Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss), this is the best. Perhaps Shock Corridor is more immediately impressing, but I think Run of the Arrow will stay with me longer. Fuller's script is great, and the film deserves to be compared to any great Western. Even though it's not quite on a John Ford level (I think both are masterpieces, but Run of the Arrow is a much smaller one), it would be good with The Searchers as a double feature. Both are about bitter Civil War veterans from the South out West. Ethan Edwards and O'Meara deal with things in quite the opposite way, of course, which is why they'd be interesting to see on the same bill.

Rod Steiger's work should be especially appreciated. It's a difficult role, a difficult job to express the inner conflict of the character. At first look, it might not look like he shows much emotion. However, everything is expressed very subtly. I think Steiger knows exactly what he's doing here. The rest of the actors are first-rate, as well, even though all the Sioux are played by white people. It's obvious, but, oh well, just accept it. It wasn't a universal truth in 1957, but it was pretty widespread. When there are choice roles, you know that they had to belong to semi-big-name actors. Heck, even the Native American Marlon Brando sent to accept his Godfather Oscar, in protest for the way Hollywood treated the race, was a white woman in disguise! Charles Bronson plays Blue Buffalo, the Sioux chief. I didn't even recognize him! 10/10.
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I'll hang before I recognise that flag.
hitchcockthelegend29 July 2012
Run of the Arrow is written and directed by Sam Fuller. It stars Rod Steiger, Sara Montiel, Brian Keith, Ralph Meeker, Jay C. Flippen and Charles Bronson. Music is scored by Victor Young and Technicolor cinematography is by Joseph Biroc.

As the American Civil War closes, Confederate Pvt. O'Meara (Steiger) finds he just can't bring himself to be part of the United States. With his head full of memories about what the Yankees put his kind through, and a heart full of bile, he decides to go West and live native. Here he encounters the Sioux and his life takes on a new meaning.....

Run of the Arrow, and director Sam Fuller in general, has grown a sterling reputation over the decades. Where Fuller's rep as the American Primitive auteur is well deserved, Run of the Arrow's is not. It seems that the themes at work, and they are strong and potent, have made many forget the glaring flaws in the production.

Churning away in the screenplay are themes of nationalism, identity, loyalty and racism, with the dialogue well scripted, but these themes are hardly presented as complex issues. Literally overnight O'Meara has a grasp on Sioux customs and language, with the Sioux not afforded any characterisation outside of O'Meara's musings (the authoritative voice after one day of going native!) and a brief scene where Blue Buffalo (Bronson) bizarrely accepts the Christian faith is the same as the Sioux faith. Ultimately the presentation of the Sioux is so one dimensional it's nigh on impossible to accept that O'Meara is now conflicted in his calling.

Then there is the small matter of Steiger's miscasting. As some critics have fallen over themselves to laud the film as an ambitious masterpiece, they have forgotten about the lead man's misplacement. The attempt at an Irish accent is woeful, it comes off as more like an Eastern Europe and Asian mix, thankfully he gives up later in the film to give our ears a rest. But he is also physically wrong as well, we are asked to believe that his stocky frame can outrun lithe and muscular Sioux warriors, it's insulting even when taking artistic licence into account. Amusingly some critics of the time praised Fuller for fluidly tracking running feet as opposed to full bodied character, truth is it wasn't artistic intent, Steiger had sprained his ankle so Fuller had to shoot another actor running! It's just one of the many irrelevant scenes in the picture.

The use of white actors to play Indians always causes friction with Western fans, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Here it cuts both ways, Bronson gets away with it, he looks the part, but Flippen is embarrassingly unconvincing as Walking Coyote and Montiel as Yellow Moccasin is done up like a porn version of a Sioux squaw! (voice dubbed by Angie Dickinson as well). It's hard to focus on strong thematics when Steiger is talking through a mouth full of beans, Flippen looks like he has wandered in off of an L.A. street and Montiel is making you horny with a shapely thigh! Where the film lifts itself above average is with Fuller's knack for stylised violence and the location photography of Biroc (latterly Ulzana's Raid). Officially the first film to use squibs for bloody impact of weapons, Fuller utilises this to the max, there's also some excellent flaming arrow work as well. Even though the print I viewed of the film is drab and scratchy, you can still see the great work of Biroc as he brings the beauty of St George, Utah, to Fuller's harsher human edges. While Young's score is inventive in blending Civil War and Irish tunes into the otherwise standard Cavalry and Indians mix.

I consider myself a big Fuller fan, I love Forty Guns, Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss, but Run of the Arrow has too much wrong with it to deserve the "great" reputation it has. While those trying to put it forward as being this great inspiration that Dances With Wolves copied! Are seriously barking up the wrong tree. Each has a disenchanted soldier venturing West and encountering the Sioux, from there on in, though, the films vastly differ. 6/10
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SnoopyStyle18 August 2019
Confederate soldier Rod O'Meara (Rod Steiger) is bitter following Lee's surrender at Appomattox. He almost takes a shot at Grant. He travels west to escape the Union. He is befriended by a Sioux named Walking Coyote who is returning to his tribe after working for the Americans. The two are captured by Crazy Wolf who leads a band of young warriors. Walking Coyote demands a Run of the Arrow. Crazy Wolf is forced to oblige and O'Meara manages to survive with help from Yellow Moccasin. He is the first man to survive the trial. He joins the tribe and marries Yellow Moccasin. He is assigned to scout for the Americans as they built a new fort. Conflict soon arises and O'Meara is forced to choose a side.

Filmmaker Samuel Fuller is known for low budget B-movies which sometimes gained critical praise. O'Meara may not be an appealing protagonist but he has a point to make. It is a look at the world through the loser's side, both the Confederates and the Sioux. Both groups are in the last days of independence. It's a conflicted film about a conflicted world with conflicted characters. The movie is trying to say something but like O'Meara, the movie is unsure of its own point of view. This is interesting but it leaves me conflicted.
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A Neglected Classic
fung016 July 2017
Run of the Arrow is a slightly flawed but generally brilliant western, that deserves to be more widely seen. It's got a powerful story, epic battle scenes and some unique perspective on human nature and American history.

The story rarely goes exactly where you expect it to. Along the way, it provides insight into Southern anger at the end of the War Between the States. And it dramatically shows the kind of duplicity that was routinely applied in treatment of Native Americans.

Rod Steiger, never my favorite actor, is well-cast as a Southerner angry with the world. Ralph Meeker depicts extreme villainy deftly enough to somehow remain disconcertingly likable. Brian Keith has a pivotal but rather thankless role, which he handles with his usual aplomb. The biggest surprise is Charles Bronson, remarkably convincing as a Lakota chief.

Despite the casting of Caucasians, Sam Fuller presents an unusually nuanced view of Native American culture, spanning both brutality and honor. And despite an obviously limited budget, Fuller directs brilliantly. The opening scenes are reminiscent of Peckinpah (especially Major Dundee), and the later Indian attacks rival the grandeur of John Ford. Run of the Arrow is a visually-arresting film that deserves high-def restoration.

The flaws are minor. Someone has pointed out Steiger's weird accent. It is explained in the film, and is perhaps intended to establish the character as even more of an outsider. I didn't find it at all distracting. Some of the dialog is a bit awkward, but it always achieves its intended purpose - and actually gives the film more of a unique flavor. Worst of all is the preposterous casting of Jay C. Flippen as an Indian; you just have to accept him and move on.

Run of the Arrow reminds me of other Western 'hidden gems,' such as Only the Valiant, or the films of Bud Boetticher. It's cleverly written and tautly directed, and leaves you with a lot to think about. See it if you get a chance.
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Interesting to watch....once
mgtbltp24 April 2009
Watched this the other day and it was an interesting Cavalry vs. Indian (Sioux) film taking place before the establishment of Ft. Abraham Lincoln, and Custer. Steiger (who personally I think sucks at accents) plays a Confederate soldier with a weird Irish/Southern accent who fires the last shot in the Civil War, at Ralf Meeker, who he wounds.

He basically refuses to surrender after Appomattox and heads off to the Northern Great Plains along the way he befriends an old Sioux cavalry scout, and he undergoes the ritual "run of the arrow" and becomes accepted by the tribe, where he continues the fight against the US.

During the negotiations with the Sioux over establishing posts to separate settlers (keeping them off the hunting grounds) traveling West and the natives their chief, played by Charles Bronson, and the chief cavalry engineer played by Brian Keith they agree to select Steiger as chief Sioux scout for the expedition, not all of the Sioux are in concert with this. Keith and Steiger sort of hit it off but Meeker is a hot headed second in command who after Keith is hit by a renegade arrow decides to locate the new post in a different location than agreed, to igniting a war.

Its an interesting take on the subject and the film is worth a watch but its nothing outstanding.
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Fuller approach with rare knack on the study of American history post civil war!!
elo-equipamentos14 December 2020
The ecletic Samuel Fuller exposes the deeply feeling of anger of the entire south population when the defeat of the confederate states was outlined for Lee and Grant, thus the proudly southern soldier O'Meara (Rod Steiger) who technically gave the last shot on the war against a Yankee that didn't died, he refuses living in a country under a north starry flag, he decides headed to west to living among the savage Sioux, of which they didn't belong to United States in no way, in the middle of long journey he meets an old and wise former scout soldier Indian Walking Coyote (Jay C. Flippen) who is going back to his tribe to living their remainder years, O'Meara tells him that he wants joint with Sioux nation, due them were a free people, to be accepts both have to prove their bravery on the "Run of the Arrow" a sort of challenge between the wild Sioux, somehow he escapes of his tricky pursuer, whereupon is helped by a gorgeous native girl Yellow Moccasin (Sarita Montiel), that takes him as hubby, at long last has been adopted as Sioux, when appears the US's Calvary to build up a fort on the Sioux's territory, among the US's Calvary officers is the greedy and scrappy Lt. Driscoll (Ralph Meeker) the same soldier who took the last bullet at past war, O'Meara was assigned by Red Cloud (Frank DeKova) as Indian envoy in order to choose a place far-off the Sioux's hunting ground, also has a blatant animosity between O'Meara and Driscoll, the worst is yet to come, an unusual western indeed when Fuller wisely exploited a three-pronged approach as the unhealed wounds by American Civil War, between the contenders, sadly in the middle has a native people who suffer with both to keep their wide lands safe of the covetous northern and southern, two striking facts arise of this story, when O'Meara turn down his country to Captain Clark (Brian Keith) he reminds the squeamish man about the legendary Philip Nolan on exile who spent his last years sailing at high seas, due for same reason whereby O'Meara performs, another highlight lays out on the informatory night chat between O'Meara and Walking Coyote that explains in few words how works the Sioux system tribes and his early nomination as Sioux gave by French soldiers, great study of the American history!!

Thanks for reading.

Resume: First watch: 2011 / How many: 2 / Source: DVD / Rating: 8
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Brutal story of a post bellum Confederate dissident
bobwarn-938-558677 June 2020
I first saw this at about age 10. It was my first exposure to a truly adult western. It surpassed by a wide marging the level of graphic violence that I had become accustomed to from the then 'run of the mill' horse operas of the 1950s. I found it quite shocking. I had to fond it and watch it again as a mature adult. My reaction was less shocked but I was still repelled by its graphic violence. It out-Peckinpahed in its gritty graphic horror, later bloodbaths by the late great Sam Peckinpah in classics like 'The Wild Bunch'. I am tempted to illustrate my points but that would amount to 'spoilers'.
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Time has inflated its reputation beyond reasonable belief...........
ianlouisiana3 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Rod Steiger's accent is so bad I didn't realise until some way into this picture that he was supposed to be Irish.German?Polish...Lithuanian?He certainly had me guessing I can tell you.Fortunately when he got to make "Henderson" 18 years later he got the Belfast accent down a lot better. Being a Reb does have a certain romance to it I suppose,fields full of waving cotton, ante - bellum houses just like "Tara",blinding white in the Southern sun,slaves singing in their quarters........sorry, my pity for the beaten Confederacy is strictly limited.And,of course,being an Irishman,he would be a natural reb anyway,so he would.Mr Steiger,when I finally sorted his accent out,is portraying a glorious double - cliché figure,a man without a country who,even if he had a home,wouldn't want to go back there. He marries the Indian woman who saves his life (the way you do),becomes accepted in the tribe and represents the Sioux nation in talks with the treacherous white eyes.After lots of adventures he decides he doesn't fit into either culture and wanders off with his family and some survivors of the U.S. Army unit his erstwhile people have pretty much slaughtered.That's "Run of the arrow" for you.Jay C.Flippen,one of the best known Western character actors plays an Indian scout with a ludicrous syrup.Where's the respect for Native American culture there? He looks as embarrassed as I felt watching him.The voice of Steiger's wife is dubbed by Angie Dickinson.Charles Bronson - under gleaming gold make up - plays a Polish Indian chief . Samuel Fuller,beloved of the auteurists,was a good pro who did what he had to do and,if he could,did at least a bit of it his way. Unfortunately for "Run of the Arrow",not much of it was done his way.
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Jay C. Flippen is a Sioux Indian?! Huh?!
MartinHafer17 August 2019
I was excited to see that Sam Fuller wrote, directed and produced this film. After all, Fuller was a genius in squeezing the most out of a buck...making some amazingly good low-budgeted films. Sadly, however, this movie turns out to be among Fuller's weakest...and it is deservedly not among his his famous pictures.

When the film begins, O'Meara (Rod Steiger) is bitter because the Civil War ended and his beloved South lost. So, he packs up his stuff and heads west...unsure where to go but hating the United States. There he eventually meets up with Natives and he becomes one of them. However, when the tribe later attacks the US Cavalry, O'Meara's loyalty is tested.

The major problem with this film is the casting and Fuller's allowing this. Jay C. Flippen was a fine supporting actor...but him playing a Sioux was about as realistic as having Keye Luke play one! He neither looked nor sounded like a Native American....and never even tried to approximate an appropriate accent. But it wasn't just him....Steiger sounds nothing like a Southerner and rarely like an Irishman (though occasionally he remembered and used an Irishy accent). Add to that Charles Bronson as a Sioux and you've got a film that not only is insulting but really stupid--after all, he sounds EXACTLY like the same Charles Bronson who made "The Dirty Dozen" and "Death Wish"! It's sad, as MANY Native Americans DID appear in the film....but were all relegated to non-speaking rolls! What a huge missed opportunity! They could have played very convincing characters if given the chance.

So, if you look past the crappy accents and bad casting, it the story any good? Not especially so. It's different enough that it's still worth seeing but the overall picture lacks the Fuller touch and instead seems like a cliched western so typical of the era. There are a few interesting bits (hence my score of 4), such as the speech made by Brian Keith...but otherwise a bit let down.

By the way, I am NOT a super politically correct guy. My biggest quibble is simply realism....and few of the principle actors were realistic.
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