(director: Jesse Hibbs; screenwriters: Gil Doud/Jack Sher/based on a biography “Apache Agent” by Woodworth Clum; cinematographer: Harold Lipstein; editor: Sherman Todd; music: Aaron Rosenberg; cast: Audie Murphy (John P. Clum), Anne Bancroft (Tianay), Pat Crowley (Mary Dennison), Charles Drake (Tom Sweeny), Jay Silverheels (Geronimo), Morris Ankrum (Gen. Wade), Addison Richards (Gov. Safford); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Aaron Rosenberg; Universal-International; 1956)

“There was little action, which is not a good sign for any Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Jesse Hibbs (“To Hell and Back”/”The World in My Corner”/”Ride a Crooked Trail”) directs this leisurely paced true story Western; it’s about Indian agent John Philip Clum, at the San Carlos Apache reservation in Arizona, in 1874, as written by Clum’s son Woodworth.

The screenplay by Gil Doud and Jack Sher spends too much time over the uninteresting domestic problems of Clum (Audie Murphy) and his young fiancĂ©e from back East, Mary Dennison (Pat Crowley), rather than tangling with the more involving unique relationship the agent has with the Apaches. The agent, if we are to believe this story, was the one who got Geronimo (Jay Silverheels) to surrender peacefully when he presented the government’s new peace plan based on Indian autonomy rather than Army submission.

Clum’s problems have to do with handling the renegade Geronimo, a bigoted cavalry roaming around the reservation, an ignorant governor who cuts off supplies and a few bad Indians who use their rifles against the Army when they are returned. Charles Drake plays the good cavalry officer who helps ease the tension. Ann Bancroft plays the widowed Indian maiden, who falls in love with the married Clum.

A wooden Boy Scout-like Murphy tries to sort things out among the bad whites and a few rotten Indians, but it all seems so sluggish and hardly convincing. There was little action, which is not a good sign for any Western.

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