OREGON PASSAGE (RIO BRAVO)
(director: Paul Landres; screenwriters: Jack Dewitt/from the novel Rio Bravo by Gordon D. Shirreffs; cinematographer: Ellis Carter; editor: Maury Wright; music: Paul Dunlap; cast: John Ericson (Lieutenant Niles Ord), Lola Albright (Sylvia Dane), Toni Gerry (Little Deer), Edward Platt (Major Roland Dane), Judith Ames (Marion), H.M. Wynant (Black Eagle), John Shepodd (Lieutenant Baird Dobson), Walter Barnes (Sergeant Jed Erschick), Paul Fierro (Nato), Harvey Stephens (Captain Boyson); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lindsley Parsons; Allied Artists; 1957)
“beautifully photographed Hollywood Western of rebellious Indians put in their place by the cavalry in 1871 Oregon.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
B film director Paul Landres (“The Return of Dracula”/”Last of the Badmen”) helms a beautifully photographed Hollywood Western of rebellious Indians put in their place by the cavalry in 1871 Oregon. Writer Jack Dewitt forges the script from the novel Rio Bravo by Gordon D. Shirreffs.
The Shoshone leader named Black Eagle (H.M. Wynant) wages a guerilla war on the cavalry stationed in the cascades of Oregon. We pick things up when Lieutenant Niles Ord (John Ericson) and his trusted Indian scout Nato (Paul Fierro) raid a ceremonial village of Black Eagle and free a kidnapped squaw, Little Deer (Toni Gerry), who Black Eagle is about to force to be his wife. Little Deer is from a northern tribe, who was raised in a Methodist mission. When Niles’ patrol returns, he learns the bad news that the new fort commander, Major Roland Dane (Edward Platt), an arrogant, Indian hating and unfit leader, already hates Niles because his trophy wife Sylvia (Lola Albright) had an affair with him five years ago. The jealous Dane shows his disdain for Niles and shows no mercy for Captain Boyson (Harvey Stephens), the former commander who became a drunk after a bad torture experience with the Indians and deserves treatment rather punishment. Dane orders a court- martial for Boyson, and has a patrol escort him to the far off fort where the trial will take place. By ignoring Niles’s advice about the small patrol being a soft target for Black Eagle, it turns out that Niles is right and the patrol is ambushed and a butchered Boyson is returned to the fort. For the remainder of the film Niles must deflect the major’s hatred to him, his pigheadedness and his incompetency as a leader; ward off the advances of Sylvia, a woman he no longer loves; be wary of the naive love Little Deer has for him; battle the savage Black Eagle as he gets increasingly more militant and respect himself for being part Cherokee.
Though the story is a minor one, things look special as photographed by DP Ellis Carter in Deschutes National Forest, in Bell, Oregon. It was deliciously shot in CinemaScope and DeLuxe color.
REVIEWED ON 6/17/2017 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/