The story of the peace mission from the US cavalry to the Cheyenne Indians in Wyoming during the 1870s. The mission is threatened when a civilian surveyor befriends the chief's son and falls for the chief's daughter.Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To "show the white feather" is considered, in many places, to show cowardice. In others, it is a sign of high respect and, in still others, it serves the same purpose as a white flag of truce. See more »
The first time Little Dog (Jeffrey Hunter) and his party encounter Tanner (Robert Wagner), they are armed with repeating carbines. On all later occasions, they have bows until the very end when the rifles appear again. See more »
The production company sure got its money's worth by filming in Durango, Mexico. Those scenes of mass Indian migration, along with the massed warriors and cavalry troop of the climax are impressive as heck. I expect a lot of Mexican folks picked up a payday as a result. In fact, where this western really succeeds is in providing spectacle. The fort scenes plus the Indian encampments are both big and convincing.
The storyline may not be exactly fresh—some Indians wanting to make peace while others don't, plus the standard romantic interest—nonetheless, the individual stories are woven well into the larger conflict. Note too, how the screenplay (based on a true story) takes a generally sympathetic view of the Indians' plight— that is, being forced to move by treaty from their traditional lands. This was during a period when Hollywood was beginning to recognize Indians as human beings instead of convenient targets for repeating rifles.
Of course, an A-production requires a guaranteed box-office, and who better to bring in young folks than a leading heartthrob of the day, Robert Wagner. His rail thin frame may not look like John Wayne, but he still manages to convey the needed authority despite his pretty boy appearance. Also, Hunter remains physically impressive as the conflicted Little Dog.
I guess my only gripe is that everyone, Indians included, looks like they just stepped out of a fashion magazine. I mean the costumes are so squeaky clean and perfectly fit that you'd never guess this is supposed to be the dusty frontier. Anyway, this TCF release remains an underrated cowboy-Indian flick, especially for all its impressive crowd scenes.
(In passing—good touch allowing ambient noises such as barking dogs, squawking birds, and crying kids, to color the treaty signing scene. Usually, Hollywood would remove these as distractions, but here they lend a noisy realistic touch.)
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