A violent western drama about a man's search for his identity, starring Steiger as a Confederate soldier who hates the North with a bloodthirsty vengeance. On April 9, 1865, the last day of the Civil War, Steiger fires the war's last bullet. The victim is a Union lieutenant, Meeker, who
eventually recovers from his wound. As a souvenir, Steiger gets the bullet back with an inscription that reads: "To Private O'Meara, Virginia 6th Volunteers, who shot this last bullet of the war and missed." Although Generals Lee and Grant sign the treaty at Appomattox, the war does not end for
Steiger. He refuses to accept the "death" of the South, choosing instead to escape to the West. Once there, he joins a Sioux Indian tribe and, after proving himself in a ritual endurance test--"the Run of the Arrow"--he is taught their language and customs. He falls in love with Indian girl
Montiel (whose voice was dubbed by RKO contract player Angie Dickinson because of Montiel's thick accent), who earlier defied Sioux tradition and risked being skinned alive by aiding Steiger during the Run. Tension grows between the Sioux and the cavalry when the latter announces plans to build a
new fort--Fort Abraham Lincoln--on Indian hunting grounds. The fort is completed outside Sioux boundaries, although one rebellious Sioux, Wynant, refuses to trust the cavalry's peacekeeping gesture. When honorable US captain Keith is killed by Wynant, Meeker (having fully recovered from his wound)
is provided with an excuse to wage an all-out attack on the Sioux. Steiger travels to the fort in an attempt to quell the anger, but is promptly knocked unconscious by the vile and untrustworthy Meeker. The Sioux retaliate and, in a gruesome, painfully graphic battle, burn the fort to the ground.
Meeker is taken prisoner and readied for skinning. Steiger, who is neither fully Sioux nor fully American, cannot stand to see such savagery or hear the victim's tortured screams and puts Meeker out of his misery with a gunshot, firing the same bullet into him as before. This time, however, he
doesn't miss. Having made peace with himself and ending his own personal Civil War with the US, Steiger leaves the reservation, taking with him Montiel and their adopted son Miller. Carrying the Union flag, Steiger leads Meeker's wounded and fatigued troops to the safety of a nearby fort.
Originally titled "The Last Bullet," RUN OF THE ARROW concerns itself with the obsessive and self-destructive frustration of Steiger's personal war. Instead of accepting the end of the Civil War as the "birth of the United States," Steiger's character prefers to see it as a death. Steiger is the
ultimate Fuller hero, filled with contradictions, but made richer and more complex because of them. By the film's finale, part of Steiger has rejected the Sioux by interrupting their ritual killing of Meeker. On the other hand, however, he cannot rid himself of the part which loves the Sioux ways,
choosing to remain with Montiel and Miller. He doesn't fully accept the Sioux, nor does he fully accept the US. He kills Meeker at the end both out of hatred for him and his army and out of sympathy for the phyical torture he is experiencing. Far from the standard Hollywood B picture--this one
makes you think--RUN OF THE ARROW is an exemplary entry which shows Fuller in top form. Completed during the last of RKO's production-distribution days, RUN OF THE ARROW was picked up by Universal-International for release.
Cast & Details See all »
- Rating: NR
- Review: A violent western drama about a man's search for his identity, starring Steiger as a Confederate soldier who hates the North with a bloodthirsty vengeance. On April 9, 1865, the last day of the Civil War, Steiger fires the war's last bullet. The victim is… (more)