Comanche


1h 27m 1956

Brief Synopsis

A frontier scout tries to protect an Indian tribe from a bigoted Cavalry officer.

Film Details

Genre
Western
Release Date
Mar 1956
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Carl Krueger Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Durango, Mexico

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
7,848ft

Synopsis

In 1875, a group of renegade Comanches led by the warlike Black Cloud attacks and burns a Mexican village, kidnaps a number of women, including beautiful young Margarita Alvarez, and escapes Mexican troops by crossing the border into U.S. territory. Later that day, Quanah Parker, chief of the Comanche Antelope tribe, stops the renegades from massacring a gang of scalp traders, led by former Cavalry scout Art Downey. Scout Jim Read orders Downey to stay out of the territory, accusing him of having made "a career of Indian hating," which prompts Downey to call Jim an Indian lover. At the Cavalry encampment, Jim meets Commissioner Ward, a government official who has been ordered to end the latest round of Comanche raids into Mexican territory. General Nelson A. Miles and Jim explain to Ward the roots of the mutual animosity between the Mexicans and the Comanches: When in the early eighteenth century the conquering Spaniards discovered that the land was rich in silver, they forced Comanches to work the mines as slaves. The Comanches rebelled and massacred the Spaniards, who began offering rewards for Indian scalps, even those taken from women and small children. After winning independence from Spain, Mexico officially ended the practice, but by that time, scalp hunting had become big business. Now, Jim concludes, hatred and killing is "a way of life." If the U.S. and Mexico promise to end scalp hunting, Jim maintains, and can persuade respected chief Quanah to approve an "honorable" peace agreement, the raids will cease. Commissioner Ward and Miles send Jim and his cohort Puffer to negotiate with Quanah, but when Downey informs the distrustful Ward that Jim's mother was the sister of Quanah's mother, an American who had been captured by Indians as a child, he orders the peace talks cut short. While seeking Quanah, Jim and Puffer find Margarita wandering the countryside in a daze and offer her food. They then watch as Downey's gang, anxious for more scalps, shoots at two Comanches. Jim and Puffer rescue one of the wounded Indians and return him to Quanah's stronghold, but Black Cloud accuses Jim of the shooting. The injured Comanche, Quanah's brother, regains his strength and clears Jim and Puffer, after which Jim persuades Quanah to make peace with the U.S. and Mexican governments. Jim tells Quanah they are cousins, and Quanah vows loyalty to his white friend. This infuriates Black Cloud, who gathers his own followers and leaves the village. Jim and Puffer ride off to fetch Ward and Miles for a peace council, but before they leave, Jim promises Margarita that he will return and marry her. On the journey to the Army encampment, Jim and Puffer come across a Cavalry unit that has just been massacred by Black Cloud. Miles soon arrives with Ward, Downey, and a large regiment of soldiers, but Ward, who calls Jim the cousin of a savage, has ordered Miles to subdue Quanah by force, and Jim is unable to prevent their march to Quanah's stronghold. Seeing the soldiers, Black Cloud sends word to Quanah and then traps and destroys a column of troopers led by Ward and Downey. Black Cloud captures Ward and threatens to kill him if Miles and his approaching column refuse the renegade Comanches safe passage from the area. Just then Quanah, leading a huge force of loyal Comanches, threatens to attack Black Cloud. Trapped, the vengeful Black Cloud kills Ward and begins battling Miles's men. During the battle, Downey's shot misses Jim's back, but Jim's return bullet finds its mark. Next, Jim fights with and finally strangles Black Cloud, and soon the battle ends and Quanah and Miles shake hands. The Comanches will uphold the peace, Quanah promises, in exchange for the freedom to choose their own teachers, practice their own religion, and think their own thoughts. "From where the sun now stands," he declares, "we will fight no more forever." The agreement made, the troopers start toward home, with Jim and Margarita in the lead.

Film Details

Genre
Western
Release Date
Mar 1956
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Carl Krueger Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Durango, Mexico

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
7,848ft

Articles

Comanche


"Filmed entirely near Durango in Old Mexico for historical authenticity' this picture is dedicated to the people and the government of Mexico with sincere thanks for their cooperation. Most of the characters' places' dates and events in the story are factual." Thus reads the opening titles of Comanche (1956)' a story that IS actually based on a real person - Quanah Parker, the last chief of the Comanches. But as to how much of the film's events are actually true versus Hollywood's version of history is another matter. Still, Quanah is a truly unique film character - an Indian hero in an American Western. And his story - fact or fiction - makes for an entertaining historical drama in Comanche.

The film begins with a Comanche attack on a Mexican village and several women and children are captured (among the captives' look for Mexican actress Linda Cristal in her first Hollywood film). Soon Jim Read (Dana Andrews)' a scout' rides out to meet with Chief Quanah in an attempt to restore peace between the Indians and the white men. Interestingly enough' Quanah was the son of Comanche Chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker' a white girl taken captive in an 1836 raid on Parker's Fort in Texas. Cynthia Parker spent some 24 years among the Comanche. Her capture and rescue form the basis of John Ford's western The Searchers (1956). Parker never made the adjustment to living with white settlers again. But her son' Quanah' adapted quite easily to the white man's ways and methods' waging several successful battles against them before giving up the fight. Comanche marks one of those instances where a white actor (Kent Smith) was correctly cast in an Indian role.

In 1867 - when the Treaty of Medicine Lodge confined the Southern Plains Indians to a reservation - Quanah decided not to go peacefully. Instead, he skillfully outmaneuvered the Army with raids through Texas and Mexico. But the U.S. troops would not back down and eventually the Comanches grew weary. A young scout named Jacob Sturm was then sent to meet with Quanah and negotiate a surrender. And - as legend has it - when Quanah rode away to make his decision he encountered two good omens - a wolf that howled and, as he put it, an eagle that "glided lazily and then whipped his wings in the direction of Fort Sill." And so, on June 2, 1875, Quanah and his people surrendered at that very fort.

After that, Quanah played the white man's game, but he abided by his own rules. He refused to give up polygamy or peyote. But at the same time, he learned English, invested in a railroad, lobbied Congress and became a reservation judge. In his biography, The Last Comanche Chief: The Life and Times of Quanah Parker, Quanah's ability to walk in two worlds is summed up this way, "not only did {he} pass within the span of a single lifetime from a Stone Age warrior to a statesman in the age of the Industrial Revolution, but he accepted the challenge and responsibility of leading the whole Comanche tribe on the difficult road toward their new existence." He died on February 23, 1911 and was buried beside his mother in Fort Sill cemetery.

Similar to the way Quanah moved into a new world of compromise with the white man' the film Comanche ventured into new territory in the Western genre' one where the Indian wasn't always the bad guy. Along with other films like Broken Arrow (1950)' Sitting Bull (1954) and Run of the Arrow (1957)' Comanche preached peace and brotherhood in the midst of the "Cold War" era when such a concept was rare among the rampant paranoia over communism and the A-bomb.

Producer: Carl Krueger' Henry Spitz
Director: George Sherman
Screenplay: Carl Krueger
Cinematography: Jorge Stahl
Film Editing: Charles L. Kimball
Music: Herschel Burke Gilbert
Cast: Dana Andrews (Jim Read)' Kent Smith (Quanah Parker)' Nestor Paiva (Puffer)' Henry Brandon (Black Cloud)' Stacy Harris (Art Downey)' John Litel (General Miles).
C-88m. Letterboxed.

by Stephanie Thames
Comanche

Comanche

"Filmed entirely near Durango in Old Mexico for historical authenticity' this picture is dedicated to the people and the government of Mexico with sincere thanks for their cooperation. Most of the characters' places' dates and events in the story are factual." Thus reads the opening titles of Comanche (1956)' a story that IS actually based on a real person - Quanah Parker, the last chief of the Comanches. But as to how much of the film's events are actually true versus Hollywood's version of history is another matter. Still, Quanah is a truly unique film character - an Indian hero in an American Western. And his story - fact or fiction - makes for an entertaining historical drama in Comanche. The film begins with a Comanche attack on a Mexican village and several women and children are captured (among the captives' look for Mexican actress Linda Cristal in her first Hollywood film). Soon Jim Read (Dana Andrews)' a scout' rides out to meet with Chief Quanah in an attempt to restore peace between the Indians and the white men. Interestingly enough' Quanah was the son of Comanche Chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker' a white girl taken captive in an 1836 raid on Parker's Fort in Texas. Cynthia Parker spent some 24 years among the Comanche. Her capture and rescue form the basis of John Ford's western The Searchers (1956). Parker never made the adjustment to living with white settlers again. But her son' Quanah' adapted quite easily to the white man's ways and methods' waging several successful battles against them before giving up the fight. Comanche marks one of those instances where a white actor (Kent Smith) was correctly cast in an Indian role. In 1867 - when the Treaty of Medicine Lodge confined the Southern Plains Indians to a reservation - Quanah decided not to go peacefully. Instead, he skillfully outmaneuvered the Army with raids through Texas and Mexico. But the U.S. troops would not back down and eventually the Comanches grew weary. A young scout named Jacob Sturm was then sent to meet with Quanah and negotiate a surrender. And - as legend has it - when Quanah rode away to make his decision he encountered two good omens - a wolf that howled and, as he put it, an eagle that "glided lazily and then whipped his wings in the direction of Fort Sill." And so, on June 2, 1875, Quanah and his people surrendered at that very fort. After that, Quanah played the white man's game, but he abided by his own rules. He refused to give up polygamy or peyote. But at the same time, he learned English, invested in a railroad, lobbied Congress and became a reservation judge. In his biography, The Last Comanche Chief: The Life and Times of Quanah Parker, Quanah's ability to walk in two worlds is summed up this way, "not only did {he} pass within the span of a single lifetime from a Stone Age warrior to a statesman in the age of the Industrial Revolution, but he accepted the challenge and responsibility of leading the whole Comanche tribe on the difficult road toward their new existence." He died on February 23, 1911 and was buried beside his mother in Fort Sill cemetery. Similar to the way Quanah moved into a new world of compromise with the white man' the film Comanche ventured into new territory in the Western genre' one where the Indian wasn't always the bad guy. Along with other films like Broken Arrow (1950)' Sitting Bull (1954) and Run of the Arrow (1957)' Comanche preached peace and brotherhood in the midst of the "Cold War" era when such a concept was rare among the rampant paranoia over communism and the A-bomb. Producer: Carl Krueger' Henry Spitz Director: George Sherman Screenplay: Carl Krueger Cinematography: Jorge Stahl Film Editing: Charles L. Kimball Music: Herschel Burke Gilbert Cast: Dana Andrews (Jim Read)' Kent Smith (Quanah Parker)' Nestor Paiva (Puffer)' Henry Brandon (Black Cloud)' Stacy Harris (Art Downey)' John Litel (General Miles). C-88m. Letterboxed. by Stephanie Thames

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Assistant director Ignacio Villarreal's surname was misspelled "Villareal" in the onscreen credits. The film was, according to an onscreen acknowledgment, "filmed in its entirety in Durango in Old Mexico for historical authenticity....Most of the characters, places, dates and events in this story are factual." The real Quanah Parker, a chief of the powerful Kwahadie band, grew up fighting whites, even though his mother, Cynthia Parker, was white. In 1874, Quanah led a combined force of over seven hundred Comanche, Kiowa, Arapaho and Cheyenne warriors in an unsuccessful attack on Adobe Walls, an old trading post in the Staked Plain of Texas.
       That summer, generals Miles and Mackenzie pursued and fought the Indians until, hungry and demoralized, they began to surrender. Quanah, the last of the Comanches to surrender, came in under a flag of truce in June 1875. As a reservation Indian, he learned the ways of whites while continuing to lead his people and maintain his customs and heritage as an Indian. The dialogue spoken by "Quanah" near the film's close was actually uttered by the real-life Chief Joseph, a Nez Perce chief who, upon losing his lands and many of his people during a prolonged flight from the U.S. Cavalry, finally surrendered with the words, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."
       Actor Stacy Harris' name is misspelled "Stacey Harris" in the onscreen credits. Pre-release news items in Hollywood Reporter include Iron Eyes Cody and Marta Moya in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A Daily Variety news item noted that Arthur Space, originally cast as "General Eckert" (later listed as "General Nelson A. Miles"), withdrew from the film due to illness, and was replaced by John Litel. Litel, who had already been cast as "Commissioner Ward," was then replaced by Lowell Gilmore. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Mexican director Matilde Landeta (1910-1999) was assigned to act as the government's official liaison to the production.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring March 1955

CinemaScope

Released in United States Spring March 1955