Broken Arrow

  • 1950
  • 1 HR 33 MIN
  • NR

Arizona is the background for this beautifully photographed story dealing with a conflict with Apaches in the 1870s. This superb western is one of the earliest to treat the problems of Indians seriously and sympathetically. Later films would lay the blame for the scandalous treatment of Indians at the door of the Indian Bureau and Washington business interests,...read more

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Arizona is the background for this beautifully photographed story dealing with a conflict with Apaches in the 1870s. This superb western is one of the earliest to treat the problems of Indians seriously and sympathetically. Later films would lay the blame for the scandalous treatment of

Indians at the door of the Indian Bureau and Washington business interests, but in this film it is renegades and crooked traders who are at fault. Stewart, a young frontiersman who is tired of the mutual massacre of whites and Indians, visits the feared Apache leader, Cochise (Chandler), to

propose a truce. Not only does the meeting succeed, but Stewart falls in love with an Indian maiden (Paget). Both truce and troth are impeded by treachery, and peace comes only after Paget, now married to Stewart, is killed by whites from an ambush. Stewart's wrath is held in check by the wise

Cochise. In scripting, direction, and performance, this film is superior, and Chandler invests a great deal of dignity into his role as Cochise. To give this film realism, cast and crew were transported to the site where the events actually occurred eighty years earlier. One of the production

problems was processing the film since there were, of course, no film laboratories in the Arizona mountains. An Indian runner was used to rush the undeveloped stock some thirty miles to a waiting car, which then raced it to a distant lab. It was returned as quickly as the runner could carry it.

The quest for authenticity was not without its hurdles. One of the over 400 Apaches who worked on the film, Jim Red Finger, had to wear a buckskin shirt for his role in the film because he had a large tattoo which read "Remember Pearl Harbor." After instructing the Indians to make fire grates and

a bough bed in the traditional Apache manner, director Daves was stunned to find them consulting a Boy Scouts' handicraft book, and, incredibly, an archery expert had to be brought in to teach many Apaches how to use a bow and arrow. Nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor

(Chandler), Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Blacklisted screenwriter Albert Maltz's was denied credit on the film in favor of a front, Michael Blankfort ; in 1996, the Writer's Guild of America restored his name.

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