In the Sudan, in 1884 to 1885, Egyptian forces led by British General Charles "Chinese" Gordon (Charlton Heston) defend Khartoum against an invading Muslim Army led by a religious fanatic, Mohammed Ahmed el Mahdi (Sir Laurence Olivier).
Chief of Scouts Ed Bannon narrowly avoids an Apache ambush while working with the cavalry stationed at Fort Clark, Texas. The US Army is trying to talk peace with the Apaches and move them to reservations in Florida, and they take Bannon's efforts as detrimental to their new policies, so they fire him. When the Apache chief's son Torinada returns from an Eastern education, Bannon becomes highly suspicious of his motives based run-ins with Torinada in the past. Bannon continues shadowing the proceedings to the chagrin of both the US Army and the Apache warrior.Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
The character "Ed Bannon" is partially based on Al Sieber, Chief of Scouts of the United States Army in the Southwest, according to the legend that appears at the end of the film, but there are several significant differences between Bannon and Sieber. The fictional Bannon was raised by Apache's but Sieber was born in Germany (in 1844) and raised in New York. Bannon has an antipathy toward Native Americans, especially Apaches, which Sieber did not. Ironically, according to those who knew him, he didn't particularly like whites and preferred the company of Native Americans. Sieber, a Civil War veteran, became chief of scouts for the U.S. Army at the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in 1870. He led the Apache scouts who helped to track down and capture Geronimo in Mexico, and reportedly survived 29 arrow and gunshot wounds during his life. In 1907, he was killed in an accident while working as the foreman of a Native American road-building crew. Sieber spoke German, English, Spanish, Apache and at least one other Native American language. He mentored Tom Horn who was also a scout for the army and became multi-lingual under Sieber's tutelage. See more »
There actually was a Ghost Dance movement, it was a religious revival of Native Americans in 1890, but it did not involve Apaches, who inhabited mainly the Southwest (Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, etc.). It was popular among the Lakota (Sioux) of the Northern Plains. See more »
Which way are you going back to the post?
The way every detail goes back.
Pick another way, Colonel.
These Apaches were here for peace. Do you see any paint on their faces?
They don't have to have paint on their faces, but they can't fight without paint. They got to have it on them somewhere.
See more »
Arrowhead, the mere mention of it in Western circles sometimes induces a sharp intake of breath, even a furrowed brow or two. Starring Charlton Heston and Jack Palance, directed by Charles Marquis Warren; who also adapts the screenplay from W.R. Burnett's novel, Adobe Walls, Arrowhead rewrites the Indian Wars and firmly paints the Apache as distrustful thugs.
Based in essence on real life Indian scout, Al Seiber, with Heston in the role but named as Ed Bannon here, story is set in Texas 1878 at the Fort Clark Cavalry post. Peace has been brokered and the good old Cavalry boys have arranged for the Apache, led by a newly educated Toriano (Palance), to be dog tagged and whipped off to some arid land in Florida. However, the pesky Toriano has been plotting a revolution and is ready to lead his people in an all out assault on whitey and to hell with the treaty. Only white dude who smells a rat is Bannon, who with some Indian blood coursing through his veins, hates the Redskins and will never trust them. But the Cavalry hate Bannon as well, because he is in the way, causing friction, a hindrance to their wonderful ideas for piece.
No surprises for guessing what happens next! If Warren and the big wigs at Paramount Pictures were aware of the racist overtones here in 1953? Is cause for debate. I tend to agree with the theory that puts this as a sort of anti-communist allegory, but of course that doesn't excuse the xenophobic narrative whoever is on the receiving end! Yet surely the makers were genuine in trying to make a good old Cavalry versus Indians actioner? That the picture often meanders and is not carpeted with action, is a little moot, but it is well put together, well acted and looks nice with its actual real Bracketville location filming (Ray Rennahan on cinematography). Paul Sawtell does one of his robust thematic musical scores, and fine acting support comes from Robert Wilke and Brian Keith.
It's a solid routine Oater, and can be enjoyed if you can forgive it its sins? Forgive them for they know not what they do...or something like that! 6/10
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