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Thursday, June 30, 2016

July Classic Film Screenings in Greater Boston

Another month and another feast of offerings for the classic film fan in Greater Boston.  Two very special silent film screening events are coming up, and some fun flicks to enhance your summer's entertainment quotient.  Check them out and support your local cinemas!

Coolidge Corner Cinema
July 6 & 7:  Silent film fans should consider coming out to see the Fritz Lang sci-fi classic METROPOLIS (1927) with live musical accompaniment from our own Cambridge-based Alloy Orchestra.  In what is a first in the 'The Sounds of Silents' program, there will be two screenings on back-to-back days Weds & Thurs July 6 & 7 at 7:00.  The Alloy Orchestra was launched at the Coolidge in 1991 with this same film, so these screenings represent a special 25th anniversary celebration for the group.  The film is the newest "complete" version of the film, which premiered in 2010.  The Alloy Orchestra has a unique percussive and electronic sound to their specially-composed scores.  For those new to the film, it's a visual feast - the first full length sci-film ever made.

A video clip of the Alloy Orchestra rehearsing their METROPOLIS score can be seen here:

July 18, 7 PM:  THE HUSTLER (1961) is next up in the Big Screen Classics series.  I've never seen this Robert Rossen film starring Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, and George C. Scott, but all indications are that it's a tremendously-written and compelling drama.  All the stars were nominated for Oscars in the main categories, as was director Rossen and the film for Best Picture.  The only Oscars it DID win were in the cinematography and art direction, which tells me it does need to be seen on the big screen!

Somerville Theater
July 10, 2 PM. The Somerville has a special silent film screening event of its own in July as part of the 'Silents Please' series -- a double feature of W.C. Fields' rarely screened silent comedies in 35 mm:  SO'S YOUR OLD MAN (1926), directed by Gregory La Cava, and IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME (1926, also with silent screen goddess Louise Brooks).  A special guest will be Dr. Harriet Fields, granddaughter of the actor. (!) I've not seen much W.C. Fields, and none of his silents, and this represents a terrific opportunity.  Both films are shown in 35mm with live piano accompaniment by Somerville regular Jeff Rapsis.

July 28 7:30 PM:  The Somerville will need seatbelts for patrons on this day as Steve McQueen rides in in BULLITT (1968), THE GETAWAY (1972).  Both are 35 mm prints from Warner Archive.  For those who haven't experienced the phenomenon that was McQueen in the second half of the 20th century, this is a way to correct that.

Brattle Theatre
July 4:, 12:00 PM & 8:00 PM  On the holiday, The Brattle will screen the summer classic JAWS (1975), one of the first in the emerging blockbuster category of films and director Steven Spielberg's first huge hit.  It will also screen at the Somerville in August.  I wonder if our proximity to the ocean here makes this such a popular one year after year?  Regardless, if you've never seen it on the big screen you shouldn't miss it.

Jane Greer & Kirk Douglas in OUT OF THE PAST
MORE NOIR!!  The theatre just announced that the 75 Years of Film Noir festival continues with another installment with a focus on the 'femme fatale'.   Here is the list of femmes fatale along with the film and the screening date:

July 11 & 12 Jean Simmons ANGEL FACE (1952).  Also with Herbert Marshall, a fave.
Jane Greer OUT OF THE PAST (1946) Also with Robert Mitchum & Kirk Douglas. This one is spectacular.

July 18 & 19
Yvonne de Carlo CRISS CROSS (1949) Also with Burt Lancaster.
Ava Gardner THE KILLERS (1946) Also with Edmond O'Brien and Burt Lancaster.

July 26

Joan Bennett THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1945) Also with Edward G. Robinson
Joan Bennett THE WOMAN ON THE BEACH (1947). Also with Robert Ryan.

Harvard Film Archive
The programming at the HFA is always exciting.  In July, the complete Robert Aldrich retrospective (...All the Marbles) continues.  What's particularly cool about the program is that it features films that are not only directed by Aldrich, but those in which he served as an assistant or in another capacity.  In addition the HFA has included episodes of the TV series 'Four Star Playhouse' that Aldrich directed, which included several major stars.   In total, the list is too long to completely reproduce here, but check the link above for the full list.  I'm particularly excited about seeing:

July 9, 7:00 PM:  AUTUMN LEAVES (1957), in 35 mm, starring Joan Crawford, Vera Miles, and Lorne Greene.  It's a "late Hollywood melodrama, lurid, strange and overheated," and said to be Aldrich's first foray into the 'women's picture', which would culminate with WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?" Whew!

July 31 4:30 PM:  THE SOUTHERNER (1945), in 35 mm. This one was directed by the great French director Jean Renoir, but Aldrich served as assistant director.  It's starring Zachary Scott and Betty Field, and is totally new to me.  There is a chance I'll be at Woods Hole for their annual Film Festival, but if not, I will be here!

Sunday, June 26, 2016


This installment of #WesternMovieSummer finds me in the early 1940s for two contrasting films, one considered a classic and the other not so much.  The two pictures are filmed in black and white and that's about where the similarities end.  I've already had a moment or two this past week of feeling overwhelmed as the vastness of this genre has been driven home to me -- apparently 30% of movies made in the Hollywood studio era were westerns -- but, undeterred, I'm soldiering on, watching and enjoying a fascinating sampling of the genre.

This is the "classic" of the two, directed by William Wellman, and starring Henry Fonda, by then a major star of 20th Century Fox, and with Dana Andrews in a small but critical role.  It's entirely fiction, based on the 1940 novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, of the same name, and packs a depressing and spare story into 81 minutes.  It twists our guts as an entirely unromanticized tale of brutality, making the viewing experience more educational than entertaining.  Fonda is nothing like his noble 'YOUNG MR. LINCOLN' character or even his Frank James in JESSE JAMES.  For those who like their Westerns tackling head-on the ugly reality of much of society who pushed forward into lawless unsettled territories, this one won't disappoint. As discussed by Prof. Slotkin in his Western Movie course, the film's key subject, lynching of a small band of settlers accused of cattle rustling and murder, would have been understood by contemporary audiences as a parable for the rampant practice of lynching of African Americans, still prevalent at the time.

Anthony Quinn, Dana Andrews, and Francis Ford as the victims, Frank Conroy at right as Major Tetley
Further driving this point home, the most heroic character of the film, the one most willing to stand up in opposition to the lynching, is an African American character, Sparks.  Ironically, and sadly, the actor Leigh Whipper, went uncredited in the film.  His career was quite long and eventful, and he is cited as having been the first African-American actor to join the Actor's Equity Association.
Leigh Whipper as "Sparks." Image from
Despite the bleak tone, the story and characters are well drawn, the direction is tense, and the message is timeless.  I especially appreciated Andrews here, as a desperate man caught in the web of hate.  Secondary character Harry Davenport is excellent, as is young Harry Morgan and Anthony Quinn, who's oily but attractive. The film does not waste time setting the atmosphere --  in the very first scene, as Fonda and friend Morgan ride into town, the view of the town shows very little life:

Also early on, we understand the nature of Fonda's character as a man who, while not necessarily criminal, is not someone we'd admire. Within the first few minutes Fonda downs several whiskeys, gets into a fistfight as a result of a minor insult, gets knocked out cold, and when coming to has to rush out of the bar to throw up.  The close-ups and medium shots do not flatter him.  Because he's Henry Fonda we expect him to act the hero, but he lets us down a few times during the film.  He does emerge at the end, however, as a somewhat changed man.
Henry Fonda not looking his best.
Those familiar with the novel or the film will surely point to the many societal lessons and psychological depths embedded in it. For me, it was a potent reminder that even in the relatively early years of Hollywood, Westerns were not all romanticized visions or rousing action melodramas, and that the studio system could buck the expected societal values and critique them.

In sharp contrast is this minor but entertaining western, made in 1940 for Universal Studios.  At the helm was George Marshall, a talented director who scored brilliantly with DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (1939) and is also known for the Alan Ladd/Veronica Lake noir THE BLUE DAHLIA.  The film chronicles the heyday of the real-life 'Dalton gang' of brothers, who, in the James & Younger gang mode, terrorized stagecoaches, trains and banks in the early 1890s in and around Kansas until they met their end, not unlike many other outlaws of the era, in a grand shoot-out.  The film, of course, greatly fictionalizes the story, and in the tradition of the JESSE JAMES movie, tries hard to keep our sympathies on the side of this gang of murderers by giving them a sympathetic, loving matriarch, a law-abiding hero/friend in protagonist Randolph Scott, and a justification for their turning outlaw in the greedy, unscrupulous land-grubbing capitalists who make life tough for them.

I found a sharp contrast between the subject matter and the tone of the film, set up from the beginning in the onscreen narration which does not mince words about the lawless and brutal nature of the Daltons, but is accompanied by the most upbeat and jaunty music imaginable. Introduced early on the brothers, portrayed by Broderick Crawford, Brian Donlevy, Frank Albertson & Stuart Erwin, are shown to be a rowdy bunch of good-hearted pranksters who are out to have a good time and celebrate their Ma's birthday.  Crawford as 'Bob' Dalton, is even the local sheriff and is engaged to the lovely telegraph operator Kay Francis.  Even when it's made clear that the gang has succumbed to the life of crime, and the body count rises, the film seems to want to make it clear that they are just a short redemptive act away from returning to the right side of the law.  The men of the town are shown to be largely a group of buffoons, in which the Daltons are clearly part.  Andy Devine plays his usual dupe for comic effect on many occasions.  The only smart characters are Scott's Tod Jackson, Francis, and George Bancroft as the businessman/villain.  And very unlike THE OX-BOW INCIDENT, this town is filled with folk:

The last fifteen minutes of the film, though, are somewhat grim, as the brothers find themselves ambushed, and there is a prolonged shoot-out in which there is little music, only shots fired repeatedly in an intense sequence, until every last gang member is dead (this would not be a spoiler considering the real-life end for this gang, captured in some morbid photos that can be found online).  Ironically the youngest of the brothers, Emmett Dalton, is shown as being killed, but in real life he lived to write an autobiography on which the film is supposedly based.
The brothers being photographed with their Ma (played by Mary Gordon) . 
While there are no social critiques of note here, and the film exists primarily to entertain those looking for a pseudo-historical romp, it is a fun watch, with daring stunts and colorful characters.  The cast seems to be having a grand time.  Kay Francis, on the way down from her career high as elegant pre-code 'woman of the world' roles, is still stunning and compelling as the love interest.  As a film capitalizing on the success of JESSE JAMES and the depression-era audiences who would expect to root for the common man against evil capitalists, it's an example of studio-era Hollywood fare very much of its time.
Kay Francis and Randolph Scott "meet cute" at the cow pen

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Western Movie Summer Part 1: DODGE CITY and JESSE JAMES

I had such a fantastic experience with last year's "Summer of Darkness"--studying film noir with TCM, Ball State University, and several thousand other eager 'students'--that I found a big hole this summer in my film-studying agenda.  To address that, I've decided to learn about the western genre with the help of a course recorded in 2008 by Richard Slotkin at Wesleyan University and now available in podcast form from "iTunes University."  The course is "Western Movies: Myth, Ideology, and Genre."  The western is a film genre that I wouldn't call my favorite, but one that I've come to appreciate more lately.

Professor Slotkin is an English professor, author, and American cultural historian. Understanding the historical context of film is one of the many reasons I love the classics, and this series offers the opportunity to focus on this aspect of the films.  The course recordings include 18 separate lectures featuring that many films, and proceed roughly chronologically.  While it seems unfortunately that some lectures featuring westerns in the silent era were not recorded, the earliest lectures available start with some classics from 1939.  Approximately every other day during my work week I'll listen to a lecture on my morning commute, and in the same week I'll view the films.

As shared by Prof. Slotkin, the Western was starting to make a resurgence in the late 30s, as standard depression-themed films or pure escapism in screwball comedy was starting to run its course.  Westerns now presented an opportunity to reclaim an optimistic past while still commenting on the pros and cons of capitalism, of which 1930s audiences were all too aware.  The course starts with two films made in 1939 that are new to me: DODGE CITY and JESSE JAMES.  These two films present a view of the west through two very different philosophical lenses, according to Prof. Slotkin.  I enjoyed both of them.

This Warner Bros. film, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, and directed by Michael Curtiz, is not dissimilar to the swash-buckling adventure films that catapulted Flynn to stardom, often alongside de Havilland.  It has a light-hearted tone through most of it.  Flynn plays an opportunistic cattle trader who helps the railroad establish a foothold in west by making Dodge City, KS, a booming cattle town and prominent new railroad stop, safe from those Western-style gangsters that are extorting citizens for their own gain and benefiting by ensuring lawlessness and violence prevail.

Of the two, this film, argues Prof. Slotkin, has a more pro-capitalistic outlook, as the railroad is presented as a herald of technological and societal progress.  As long as society has heroes like Flynn who will step up and make it safe for women and children, order and progress will win and benefit all.  There is a bit of tension in that *too* much domesticity is ridiculed in the figures of the older women of the "Pure Prairie League", in contrast to the fun women in the neighboring saloon as represented by singer Ann Sheridan, and all the drinking, partying men who raise hell in an extended barroom brawl sequence that is as fun as it is frenzied.

Ann Sheridan and her fellow saloon ladies in bright,
crisp pastels
Alan Hale reluctantly accepts a cup of tea
from the ladies in the 'Pure Prairie League'.  His
being inducted as a member is a wonderful comic touch.
I would agree that this film did capture a sense of optimism, of expansion, using 'right' along with 'might'.  I felt that, unlike JESSE JAMES, the point of view or message of the film was not overly heavy-handed.  Of course, the film stayed away from controversial topics such as the human cost of western expansion for the Native Americans.  For pure enjoyment and joyful tone this film is close to DESTRY RIDES AGAIN, another film from 1939 that I really enjoyed, and wrote about here.  I am not particularly a fan of Errol Flynn, and while he was fine here, I found myself taken with Alan Hale's portrayal of the loyal, and somewhat comic sidekick.  Olivia de Havilland was lovely and feisty, and while eventually succumbing to Flynn's wishes for domesticity, she did have an opportunity to earn a living at the local newspaper.

A very different, but equally enjoyable 1939 big budget western, is 20th Century Fox's  JESSE JAMES, starring Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda, with Henry King directing.  This one apparently started the 'cult of the outlaw' in popular culture, and there have been upwards of a dozen films on the subject of James.  Here, the railroad figures prominently again, but instead of a sign of progress, it's a sign of capitalist oppression, a sentiment that would be understood by a great number of Americans in the late 1930s.  James himself is initially portrayed somewhat fictionally as being driven to becoming an outlaw as a result of his family and farmer neighbors being illegally threatened by corrupt (railroad) businessmen.  He's someone we root for, and then he goes wrong as he finds he can't resist the criminal life even when better forces, namely the women in his life try to bring him back to the straight and narrow.

Unlike Olivia de Havilland's prominent role in DODGE CITY, the female lead here, Nancy Kelly, has not much to do other than moon and grieve over her man.  Nearly of the shots of the couple together feature Power over Kelly.  Power, obviously, was the big matinee idol, and was playing against type as the scruffy outlaw.  His acting chops were on display, as he was convincing and rather good in the role, as was Henry Fonda as his brother Frank James.  It's a well-paced western with action, pathos, and beautiful on-location vistas in and around Pineville, Missouri. (While the cast and crew were celebrated by residents of Pineville while on location, I was horrified to learn that at least one horse was killed by the stunt it was forced to do in a key scene). While punctuated by comic touches, especially from Henry Hull's blustering newspaperman, the tone of the film is darker than DODGE CITY.  Despite the fault of the opportunistic capitalists, the message that a life of crime doesn't pay, and ultimately can't be justified, is clear.

Power as James cannot be talked out of his next criminal venture.
It was a film that left me interested enough to consider watching the sequel.  Incidentally I recently watched a lesser western called KANSAS RAIDERS (1950) about James' early experiences with renegade confederate leader William Quantrill.  This film, starring Audie Murphy, was also greatly fictionalized but the portrayal of James as a 'misunderstood kid trying to do good but going wrong' is fully intact in this one as well.
The clear message would have been appreciated by 1930s audiences.
Next up in the lecture series:  STAGECOACH and OX-BOW INCIDENT.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

COUNT THREE AND PRAY & TOMAHAWK - the Van Heflin & George Sherman collaborations

It's a role that arguably no other actor would suit the way Van Heflin suited it -- the Civil War veteran and former bad boy who finds God and returns to his southern town to take over as preacher.  The character is Luke Fargo and the movie is COUNT THREE AND PRAY (Columbia, 1955). The film plays to all of Heflin's many strengths. The film is also notable for the debut of Joanne Woodward, in a completely non-glamorous but fabulously fun role.  For those reasons alone, although there are more, it's worth a look.  It doesn't appear to be available on DVD.  A copy is on YouTube at the moment and I took the opportunity to view it before it disappears.
Original Film Poster ( with the tag
line "Luke Fargo was through with sin....
but sin wasn't through with Luke Fargo!"

The director, George Sherman, is known most commonly as a workhorse director of "B" Westerns, although his prolific career spanned the late 30s through the mid 70s.  In the 40s and 50s he primarily worked for Columbia and then Universal Pictures. The first picture Van Heflin made after leaving MGM was for Universal under Sherman: TOMAHAWK (1951) (more on this one below).    I highly recommend this post at the Movie Morlocks blog for a re-assessment of Sherman's work.

IMDb calls this film a Western but that doesn't seem 100% accurate.  It's more a period post-Civil War comic melodrama, with some good guy/bad guy dynamics typical in Westerns, along with some gorgeous outdoor scenery.  Adapted by Herb Meadow from his own short story "Calico Pony", the film adopts an overall joyful and lighthearted tone, punctuated with some more serious moments.  It begins with Heflin's character, Luke Fargo, dressed in Union blue uniform, outdoors with two other men who are dressed in Confederate gray.  It becomes clear they are heading home from the Civil War.  A series of visual clues and short scenes establish that the townsfolk have a great distaste for union soldiers, and Fargo in particular.  His own place having been burnt down, Fargo shows up at the place belonging to the former parson, who was killed in the war. There he encounters a wild young teenage girl, Lissy (Woodward), who is orphaned and has been living there. After clumsily pulling a rifle on Fargo, Lissy settles in to a tentative peace with him, and the two decide to share quarters. Then, attempts to prove he's a changed man to the local suspicious townsfolk, and to set up a new church and take over as pastor, meet with resistance from local boss Raymond Burr, and two women who were involved with him before he got religion. The townsfolk goad him into fistfights, gambling, and other sins that he swore he'd given up.  Will he become a successful pastor and gain the respect of his flock? Will he end up with one of the women carrying a torch for him? Will Lissy ever be tamed and become a productive member of the community?  These are the questions the narrative hangs on.  
Civil War soldiers on their way home (Heflin is at right).
Heflin (right) confronts town boss Burr (left)
Struggling to find words in his first
attempt at preaching.
Van Heflin nailed this portrayal - perhaps because as a multi-faceted character, Fargo required Heflin to draw on his experience as both a serious and comic actor.  Able to display conflicted emotions and motivations so well as showcased in many films noir, Heflin easily convinced as a rabble-rouser turned preacher. He could also be earnest without cloying, and scenes in which he attempted to justify his conversion were utterly believable.  In two scenes he made me very nervous with him as he struggled with serious stage fright when trying to preach. The monologue he delivers after the failed church dedication, where he is wrestling with his self worth and his future, is brilliantly delivered.  His subtle comic talents and timing, on display in earlier films such as PRESENTING LILY MARS and THE FEMININE TOUCH, were essential to his banter with Joanne Woodward's character. Pay special attention to the scene where he's just taken a bite of chicken when Lissy tells him she stole the bird from the neighbor's henhouse.

Don't mess with Joanne!
In this, Joanne Woodward's debut, she was 25 years old, and delightfully impish and funny in her attempts to be tough, and convince Fargo she was going to be in charge. With dirt smeared on her face most of the time and a pageboy haircut, she only showed glimpses of the beauty she displayed in later films.  Her southern accent and roots were used to enhance this comic character, and she had a comfortable chemistry with Heflin.  She delivers an hilarious moment during the first preaching scene outdoors, when Fargo was unable to get started with his sermon.  After a pregnant pause, Lissy shouts from a her perch in a tree top, "Why don't you preach about hell, you oughta know about that, you raised enough around here!"  The "congregation" broke out in laughter while Fargo's embarrassment deepened.  Woodward enjoyed her experience in this film (Derek Sculthorpe, Van Heflin, A Life in Film, cited from a contemporary Hedda Hopper piece).  She also apparently nicknamed her second daughter "Lissy" after her character (IMDb),

It's not a perfect film, and while Sherman does a great job at the pacing, and deftly balancing the serious and comic elements, it seemed that Raymond Burr's character didn't have enough to do as a villain, and the characters of Georgina and Selma (the local madam) were unfortunately primarily one-dimensional and cliched.  In a minor quibble, today's sci-fi fans will likely be distracted, as I was, by a musical theme that starts identically to that of Star Trek original series (!)
Georgina (Allison Hayes) confronts Luke (Heflin) as the Bishop (Robert Burton) contemplates his next move. 
Yancey (Raymond Burr) and Georgina prepare to start a new life.
The dynamic between Fargo and Lissy throughout the film is one of a kindly uncle taking care of a wild teenage girl who, not surprisingly, develops a crush on him. That the two might take their relationship in an adult direction seemed remote, and there were only minor hints that Fargo ever felt an interest in her beyond paternal, and those perhaps were seen that way only in hindsight.  Additionally, the audience, throughout the entire film, believed that Lissy was about 15 and only near the end is it revealed she is actually 18.  At that time Fargo's restored as a rightful pastor by the bishop, who knows something needs to be done about the 18-year-old girl and the pastor sharing quarters--he decides that the two need to be married right away.  Lissy is thrilled with the idea and hands the bishop her rifle in case of any trouble. After a brief and half-hearted protest, Fargo seems to acquiesce to this turn of events and the film ends with them walking toward the chapel arm in arm. Initially I wasn't sure if I felt comfortable with this -- considering Fargo is old enough to be Lissy's father, and played that kind of role through the film.  Then I reflected that in the 1800s, marriages of convenience, and between men and women of vastly different ages, would not have been seen as unusual.  I came to terms with the end of this film; despite that I would have been fine if Lissy had just gone off to boarding school or the like, with her life bettered thanks to Fargo.

Eager to see another Sherman film, I picked TOMAHAWK (1951) -- on DVD as part of a 10 Movie western collection from Universal-- because it also starred Heflin. This one is a more traditional western, with a screenplay (Silvia Richards & Maurice Geraghty) that revolves around, although takes liberties with, the real-life fateful encounters between the U.S. Cavalry and the Sioux tribes in the Black Hills in the 1860s. The main character is Jim Bridger (Heflin) who was a real explorer and scout, and famed for the "Bridger Pass".  He was a character in two other films in made in the classic era.

Heflin giving the U.S. Army officers an earful about
their treatment of Native Americans
The film is shot almost entirely on location outdoors in the windswept plains and hills of South Dakota.  The color looks gorgeous.  Like BROKEN ARROW, the story portrays the plight of the Native Americans sympathetically, with Heflin taking their side as the peace broker during an intense time.  If anything, that intensity is reflected almost a bit too much in Heflin's performance, who commands the screen but comes across early as a bit self-righteous, which may have been a flaw in the script.  He does a fine job in the role but I suspect it didn't stretch him the way Luke Fargo did.  Jack Oakie in a supporting role brings a bit of levity, if not outright comedy, to the film, and is splendid. Yvonne De Carlo is beautiful and spirited as a young woman trapped in the Cavalry fort and torn in her affections between evil cavalry officer Alex Nicol, and Heflin.  The Native American cast was headed by John War Eagle as Chief Red Cloud, and many Native Americans filled the ranks of the cast in minor roles. Unfortunately the part of the young native girl, Monahseetah, is played by white Susan Cabot. (In a parallel to COUNT THREE AND PRAY, here there is key relationship between Heflin's character and a young girl/woman, which in this film is left undefined for about 2/3 of the film).

Warriors on both sides line up in anticipation of a key
 peace conference
The script did a good job of revealing key backstories and relationships little by little, to enlighten the underlying motivations of the characters and build tension.  While not a character study, per se, there was a degree of development, and not always predictable.  The action sequences were not extensive but were well done.

Heflin enhanced his local celebrity as a result of this film, as recounted in his biography (Van Heflin, A Life in Film (2016) by Derek Sculthorpe).  He was fascinated with the history of the local Native Americans, and even went so far as to learn the Sioux language, which he periodically speaks in the film.  Honored by the local Sioux tribe, he was adopted by the chief as an honorary grandson, and given the name 'Looking Horse'.  He spoke at various civic gatherings in Rapid City as well during his time on location.  The conviction he felt for the cause of the Native Americans was no doubt reflected in the intensity his performance.

There was an emotional heft to this film, with credit to Sherman and the actors.  I felt immensely sad at the bloodshed that accompanied this time in history.  While it's not a classic, and occasionally falls victim to cliches, I do recommend it highly for all western film fans.  For further reading, check out this perspective (by Colin at Livius1 blog). Some parting images below.
Alex Nicol romances the beautiful Yvonne De Carlo
Jack Oakie (right) and friendly cavalry office Russ Conway
As stated by R. Emmett Sweeney for the Movie Morlocks blog post on George Sherman, "The final shootout is more like a Holocaust, Van Heflin’s severe face colored with nausea." Shown here with Preston Foster as the Colonel.
John War Eagle as Chief Red Cloud is overcome with emotion as he witnesses the slaughter of his warriors.