Broken Arrow Reviews
Tom Jeffords is a cowboy that saves an Apache boy during an ongoing feud between America and the Apache. Tom tries to use his new relationship with the Apache to negotiate a treaty in some way to protect families and children on both sides of the war. There are several battles that make the treaties tough to implement.
"I will try the way of peace."
Delmer Daves, director of 3:10 to Yuma, The Badlanders, Never Let me Go, Destination Tokyo, Task Force, Bird of Paradise, and Return of the Texan, delivers Broken Arrow. The storyline for this picture is entertaining and well done. The action was intense and the main characters are executed so well. The cast delivers awesome performances and includes James Stewart, Jeff Chandler, Debra Paget, and Will Geer.
"Let your face not be seen again."
I was excited to see this coming on the October lineup on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). I am a huge James Stewart fan. This was very well done and I enjoyed how the film unfolds. I wouldn't say it was an epic all time great western, but it is a must see for fans of the genre.
"A pony is a small horse."
The true story of Tom Jeffords (played by James Stewart), who, in the early-1870s, negotiated a peace treaty between the Apache tribe, lead by Coshise (played by Jeff Chandler) and the US government.
Interesting from an historical perspective, and also from a purely dramatical perspective. Moreover, and rare for a 1950s movie, the Indians are portrayed in a positive light. Well, no worse a light than the white people.
However, some of the story appears dramatised, and some stuff is plain unnecessary. Moreover, it all feels a bit patronising towards Indians. Small steps, I guess, after how Indians were usually portrayed in Westerns.
Hard to fault any James Stewart performance and he does a good job here. However, his good-guy image and delivery goes a long way to create the patronising feel of the movie.
Filming started on 6 June 1949. It was primarily shot on location in northern Arizona, approximately 30 miles south of Flagstaff. Apaches from the Whiteriver agency on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation played themselves. Debra Paget was only 15 when she played the love interest to 41-year-old James Stewart.
The movie was based on the 558-page novel Blood Brother (1947) by Elliott Arnold, which told the story of the peace agreement between the Apache leader Cochise and the U.S. Army, 1855-1874. The studio employed nearly 240 Indians from Arizona's Fort Apache Indian Reservation; all location scenes were shot in Sedona, Arizona. (The story of Cochise actually occurred in what is now the Chiricahua National Monument in southeastern Arizona.) The studio attempted to portray Apache customs in the film, like the Social Dance and the Girl's Puberty Rite. For the character of Cochise, director Daves eliminated the traditional style of broken English and replaced it with conventional English so that whites and Indians would sound alike
i think that this is such a great westerns movie 2 watch, it is such a thrilling movie 2 watch, its got a great cast throughout this movie.....i think that this is such a great movie 2 watch, its got good fight scenes throughout this movie....it is such a thrilling movie 2 watch, i think that james stewart was fantastic throughout this movie.....its such a brilliant movie 2 watch, with a great cast throughout this movie.....
Broken Arrow was dramatized as an hour-long radio play on January 22, 1951, starring Burt Lancaster and Debra Paget. It was also presented as a half-hour broadcast of Screen Director's Playhouse on September 7, 1951, with James Stewart and Jeff Chandler in their original film roles. The film and novel also provided the basis for a television series of the same name that ran from 1956 through 1960, starring Michael Ansara as Cochise and John Lupton as Jeffords
The movie's world premiere was at the Nusho Theater in downtown Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
The Blackfoot Indians would use a broken arrow to signal that they would cease fighting
it is such a fantastic movie 2 watch, with a great cast throughout this movie......
The way that they treat Anglo-Indian relations is superb. In the '50s in general Indians were the villains, pure and simple. Nowadays we've overcompensated to the point where they're flawless pacifistic innocents. To show them doing some of the things they do in this film would be horribly un-pc. They torture men to death by coating their eyes with honey and leaving them to be eaten by ants, an actual historical practice. Throughout they are presented as violent and dangerous, yet they did not start the war nor are their actions unique and unjustified. Their leader (who has massacred civilians) is even presented as noble and a good leader. The film may show less of it but there is much mention made of the atrocities committed by Americans. In brief it offers a much more balanced view of the entire process than modern films like Dances With Wolves which simply reversed the American / Indian dynamic. Changing the identity of the villain does not make your film any less one-sided or unfair.
Also, unlike any '50s film I can recall they actually have an almost entirely native cast for the Apaches. This carries with it a distinct problem: they can't act. These are all amateurs and it shows, unfortunately. The film is based off a true story and features a series of highly sympathetic portrayals of real figures, including Cochise the leader of the Apache forces.
Now we come to quality of the film itself, and it's not quite as one-sided a praisefest as the content. Sure it's good, but there's just something about '50s westerns that don't do it for me. '50s American cinema in general was stilted and stale with far too many limits on what it could show. Still, this is an excellent film for the '50s. I get the feeling it went about as far as it could go back then.
Plotwise, this film is focused on Tom Jeffords, a prospector and ex-army scout who saves an Apache boy and finds himself involved in trying to end the war between them and the US Army. Most of the film is taken up with him working at peace while both sides wage war. There is also a mandatory cheesy '50s romance thrown in for good measure. It's a somewhat creepy one actually since the girl is supposed to be a teenager and Stewart looks somewhere in his 40s.
It hardly even seems worth mentioning that while the movie ends on a (mostly) high note in reality the Americans broke the treaty within a few years. Cochise had managed to keep the peace, but he died within about a year of natural causes. To his credit Jeffords resigned in disgust (he was Cochise's choice as Indian Agent) when the Army came in and forced all the Apache onto a reservation, but basically everything happy about the ending was undone within five years. But none of that changes the good intentions of these people. That peace failed was due to the greed, bigotry, and anger of the white colonists but the principal figures in this movie were honest enough in their aims.