Broken Arrow (1950)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Broken Arrow Videos

Broken Arrow Photos

Movie Info

Indian scout Tom Jeffords (James Stewart) is sent out to stem the war between the Whites and Apaches in the late 1870s. He learns (through an uncomfortably close encounter) that the Indians kill only to protect themselves, or out of retaliation for white atrocities. Befriending the sagacious Apache leader Cochise (Jeff Chandler), Jeffords ensures safe passage for white mail-carriers through Indian territory. As he becomes closer to his Native American "brothers", Jeffords falls in love with and weds a pretty Apache girl (Debra Paget). This being a 1950 film (miscegenation was frowned upon by the Production Code), you can guess what happens to her. Jeffords wants to avenge his bride's death at the hands of white renegades, but it is the so-called "savage" Cochise who advises him not to. Having learned much from each other, Jeffords and Cochise symbolize the white/Indian detente with the traditional broken arrow. This superb, non-condescending film has been criticized in some circles because of the alleged depiction of Cochise as an Indian "Uncle Tom", and because actor Jeff Chandler was not a genuine Native American. Nonetheless, Broken Arrow stands the test of time far more successfully than the later, politically correct Dances with Wolves. In 1956, Broken Arrow was adapted into a TV series starring John Lupton as Jeffords and Michael Ansara as Cochise.
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama , Western , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Watch it now


James Stewart
as Tom Jeffords
Jeff Chandler
as Cochise
Debra Paget
as Donseeahray ('Morningstar')
Basil Ruysdael
as Gen. Howard
Will Geer
as Ben Slade
Arthur Hunnicutt
as Duffield
Raymond Bramley
as Col. Bernall
Argentina Brunetti
as Nalikadeya
Jack Lee
as Boucher
Robert Adler
as Lonergan
Mickey Kuhn
as Chip Slade
J.W. Cody
as Pionsenay
John War Eagle
as Nahilzay
Robert Dover
as Machogee
Edwin Rand
as Sergeant
John Doucette
as Mule Driver
Trevor Bardette
as Stage Passenger
Nacho Galindo
as Barber
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Broken Arrow

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (3)

Essentially it's an appealing, sentimental Indian romance, with plenty of action.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

A fine film all the same, despite the compromised ending, quite beautifully shot by Ernest Palmer.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

We cannot accept this picture as either an exciting or reasonable account of the attitudes and ways of American Indians. They merit justice, but not such patronage.

Full Review… | January 27, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

This massively influential western from director Delmer Daves was among the first to tell the native American side of the story.

Full Review… | October 23, 2015
Radio Times

This superb western is one of the earliest to treat the problems of Indians seriously and sympathetically.

Full Review… | October 23, 2015
TV Guide

One of the first Hollywood movies to preach for accord between Native Americans and white civilization. While the liberal ideology is commendable, the portrayal of Cochise by white actor Jeff Chandler is not.

Full Review… | May 7, 2006

Audience Reviews for Broken Arrow


A very underrated film, Broken Arrow deftly and handily tells a great story. Jeff Chandler turns in an excellent performance as miscast Cochise, playing the Apache leader with an admirable diligence and respect. James Stewart's turn as Tom Jeffords is surprisingly understated and memorable, not just in the usual likable Jimmy Stewart kind of way. I also love the briskness of the editing and overall direction.

Paris Smith
Paris Smith

Super Reviewer

James Stewart is cool in this movie trying to get the Europeans and Native Americans to get along. Both he and the audience learn a lot. Of course this isn't the best western, but I liked it.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

I actually really like this and think it has a very nice message and sense of direction. James Stewart fits well into the earnest cowboy role, essentially becoming the peacemaker of Arizona. While some of the Indians don't come across as authentic looking, it doesn't really matter. I'd rather watch Jeff Chandler as Cochise than a real Native American who can't act. This is a very different type of Western and one that has a very unique quality to it.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

Broken Arrow Quotes

Discussion Forum

Discuss Broken Arrow on our Movie forum!

News & Features