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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fort Apache (released in 1948) starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda - the prejudices between the White and the American Indians

Fort Apache is a western based loosely on the Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fetter-man massacre. It gives a balanced view about the soldiers and the Indian Settlers, Sioux in the battle. The story details about the prejudices which was prevalent among the whites which lead to the rebellion by the Indian tribe Apache. It is the story of class wars also and how love conquers everything. This movie won the prize for the best director in the Locarno film festival.
Fort Apache is a outlying cavalry post and its commanding officer is being moved. Every body expects Kirby York, a highly respected Captain to be given the command of the regiment. But it was given to the Lieutenant Colonel, Owen Thursday who is a graduate from the West Point military Academy and a decorated civil war officer. But he lacks the people skills and the experience to guide Fort Apache. He is accompanied by his Daughter, Philadelphia to the posting. Owen Thursday is a very egoistic and self-centered officer who is extremely class conscious. He is dismissive about the concerns about the Indian settlers and follows the rule book to the core. This builds resentment against him in the unit.

The Apache's are exploited by Silas Meacham and complaints reach Thursday. He has utter contempt for Meacham but he follows the rule book which states that Meacham being an United States agent is entitled for Army protection. York advices Thursday against angering the poor exploited Indians, but is ignored. Soon the Apaches rebel under the leadership of Cochise. Interwoven in the story is the love story between Philadelphia and Second lieutenant Michael Shannon O'Rouke, who is the son of a Sergeant Major who has won a gallantry medal. In-spite of being a West Point Graduate, O'Rouke is treated with contempt by Colonel Thursday who forbids the relationship between O'Rouke, and his daughter.
Soon the Indians rebel and and Thursday declares war on them. He charges against them in - spite of the odds staked against the company. Kirby York tires to reason with the colonel and is shunted out. Colonel Thursday removes him from his post and orders him to stay back. Soon the charge against the Indians who are comfortably entrenched on the hills is a failure an the company is decimated. Thursday is among the casualties. The surviving but wounded soldiers come back to the regiment and inform York who leads a rescue mission. Cochise spares York because he knows that he is a man of his word.
York who had spared O'Rouke from battle helps him to marry Philadelphia. In the end York assumes the command of the regiment and is deputed to negotiate with the Apaches. He does not bad mouth Thursday's failed charge against the Indians. When the journalists ask him whether he has sen the picture titled, “Thursday's Charge” he says that the regiment will always honor the memory of the brave officers and foot soldiers.
This film was directed by John Ford and first of his highly successful Cavalry Trilogy which was followed by “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and “Rio Grande”

Fort Apache (released in 1948) starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda - the prejudices between the White and the American Indians

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