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CONQUEST OF COCHISE (director: William Castle; screenwriters: Arthur Lewis/story by DeVallon Scott/DeVallon Scott; cinematographer: Henry Freulich; editor: Al Clark; cast: John Hodiak (Cochise), Robert Stack (Maj. Tom Burke), Joy Page (Consuelo de Cordova), Rico Alaniz (Felipe),Fortunio Bonanova (Mexican Minister), Edward Colmans (Don Francisco de Cordova), Alex Montoya (Jose Antonio Felicisimo de la Vega y Garcia), Steven Ritch (Tukiwah, Cochise’s Lieutenant), Carol Thurston (Terua, Cochise’s Wife), Rodd Redwing (Red Knife, Comanche Chief), Robert E. Griffin (Sam Maddock, Tucson Bar Owner), Poppy del Vando (Senora de Cordova), Edward Hearn (Gen. Gadsen); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Katzman; Columbia Pictures; 1953)
It’s shot in a strikingly bright Technicolor, which is a good thing because the loud colors keep one awake.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Routine Indian Western directed by William Castle (“The Tingler”/”Homicidal”/”Strait-Jacket”) as if he were comatose away from his more usual gimmicky black and white suspense thrillers.It’s shot in a strikingly bright Technicolor, which is a good thing because the loud colors keep one awake.“Cochise” is based on the story by DeVallon Scott and is written by Scott and Arthur Lewis.

In 1853, the US signs the Gadsen Purchase with Mexico, thereby concluding the war between the two countries. For 10 million dollars the Americans get Tucson and other Southwestern territories once held by Mexico. General Gadsen (Edward Hearn) sends to the new Southwestern territories womanizer Major Burke (Robert Stack), an elite cavalry officer, to make peace with the Apaches and their fierce leader Cochise (John Hodiak).

In Tucson Burke learns that saloon owner and town leader Sam Maddock (Robert E. Griffin) runs things, what he doesn’t know yet is that the oily Maddock instigates trouble between the white settlers, the old-time Mexican residents and the Indians so he can turn a big profit and take over the Mexican homes if they flee across the border. The Mexican aristocrats ask for Burke’s help to stop Cochise from raiding them, and to clean up the town. Burke immediately gets a peace treaty from Cochise by shaking hands whitey style (no peace pipe here). The smooth talker Burke also hits on the wealthy aristocrat’s daughter Consuelo de Cordova (Joy Page), but she’s more charmed with the dashing soldier than in love with him.

Trouble with the peace treaty is that the Comanches don’t accept it and attack the Mexicans. This forces the Apaches to join forces with the army to stave off the renegade Comanches. But the chief’s young bucks don’t want to fight other Indians, when they deem whitey as the enemy. Cochise rides with his wife Terua (Carol Thurston) to Tucson to iron things out with Burke, but Maddox incites crazed Mexican aristocrat Felipe (Rico Alaniz), whose wife was slain by Indians, to kill the chief and gives him a trooper’s rifle left at the bar to make it look like a cavalryman did the shooting. Felipe accidentally kills Cochise’s beloved wife instead of the chief, and in retaliation the Apache’s snatch Consuelo as hostage. They give Burke four days to get the killer or they threaten to join the Comanches in war against the Americans (or the white eyes, as they are called by the Apaches) and slay the hostage. Wouldn’t you know it, Consuelo has the hots for Cochise because he puts no moves on her and the two fall in love. In the conclusion we wonder will Cochise marry Consuelo, will Burke bring Felipe to justice in time to prevent a bloodbath, and will the Comanches accept Burke’s word that his prisoner is the guilty party. Somehow we get all these answers, but in a way that’s far from convincing–in a pic that looks good but sounds terrible.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”