(director: Joseph M. Newman; screenwriters: from a story by Garnett Weston/John C. Higgins; cinematographer: Harry Jackson; editor: John McCafferty; music: Alex North; cast: Tyrone Power (Constable Duncan MacDonald), Cameron Mitchell (Konah), Thomas Gomez (Natayo Smith), Penny Edwards (Emerald Neeley), Robert Horton (Jess Calhoun), Anthony Numkena (Comes Running), Stuart Randall (Standing Bear), Howard Petrie (Insp. Frazer), Grady Galloway (Shemawgun, Konah’s brother), Muriel Landers (Small Face, wife of Natayo); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Samuel G. Engel; 20th Century Fox; 1952)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Unremarkable Western that uses stock footage from William Wellman’s 1944 Buffalo Bill to fill in fight scenes between the Cavalry and Indians. The directing by Joseph M. Newman and the script by John C. Higgins from a story by Garnett Weston are both mediocre. It’s supposedly based on a true story.
It’s set in 1876 in northwest Canada, some three years after the birth of the Canadian Royal Mounties. They number three hundred, and have a difficult task carrying the law to where there is none in the vast wilderness territory. Near Saskatchewan, at Fort Walsh, Inspector Frazier orders inexperienced Mountie Duncan MacDonald (Tyrone Power) to go with scheming half-breed Natayo Smith (Thomas Gomez) across the border to escort the Cree, led by Chief Standing Bear, back into Canada to prevent an Indian war with the Sioux and release two white hostages held by the Cree. The starving Cree crossed into Montana to hunt buffalo, and when challenged by the Long Knives retreated rather than lose to their superior foes. Standing Bear to ensure safe passage back to Canada orders his war lord Konah (Cameron Mitchell) to bring back hostages as bargaining chips.
At the Cree campsite the Mounty has to bargain with Standing Bear to free the hostages, a pretty widow named Emerald Neeley (Penny Edwards), whose husband was killed in the raid, and the family’s hired hand who unknown to the Neeleys is an escaped convict named Jess Calhoun (Robert Horton). Things get dicey when Jess tries to escape and puts a hatchet to Konah’s brother. Also a young Indian boy, Comes Running, lobbies to get himself adopted by Constable MacDonald. It’s up to the Constable to settle things and that he diplomatically and heroically does.
REVIEWED ON 4/4/2006 GRADE: C+