A blog dealing with either the joy of cinema or the agony of cinema--nothing in between.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday is grumbling in his stagecoach en route to his new detail in a remote fort in the American southwest. He has a stellar war record and once held the rank of General. Now the stubborn and regimented cavalry man has been placed in charge of a rinky dink operation and when he arrives with his wide eyed daughter in tow it is everything he expected: a nothing happening locale occupied by disheveled and unorganized officers. Immediately he begins to whip his detail into shape, ignoring his underling's opinions who may have a better knowledge of the land and the local Indian population. However, when tensions begin to flare between his men and the Apache tribe, it goes beyond rubbing his men the wrong way and he may in fact be putting his company in jeopardy. Directed by legendary director John Ford in his beloved Monument Valley, Utah, it was the first film of his cavalry trilogy (followed by She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande). Loosely based on General Custer's Last Stand, it is a surprisingly sympathetic towards Native Americans, especially for a 1948 Western. Additionally it is a thoroughly entertaining film, laced with humor in addition to its battle scenes. Aside from a portrait of a martinet and the implications of his decisions, at its core this is a portrait of life on a military post. All facets of this all encompassing film are handled wonderfully. It is also delightful to watch Henry Fonda (as Colonel Thursday) and John Wayne (his second in command), arguably to of the greatest stars of the 20th century play, play against type and do it so well. Fort Apache isn't a typical Western and through its comedic sensibilities, action sequences, and sensitivity it should hold an appeal to all.