Cast & Crew
Charles Marquis Warren
Led by Sergeant Clovis Hook, the U.S. Cavalry finally captures Apache chief Nanchez, described by one of the soldiers as "the worst butcher in the territory." As the troops are rounding up the families of the killed and captured braves, they discover that the mother of Nanchez's small son Quito is Cora Sutliff, a white woman captured by the tribe some years earlier. Cora, refusing to speak to anyone, accompanies her boy and the other prisoners to the fort, where Colonel Weaver, after suggesting that Cora should have killed herself rather than be taken as Nanchez's squaw, conducts a search and finally locates the woman's white husband Fred. As Nanchez looks on, Hook leaves the fort with Cora and the boy, intending to deliver them to Fred in San Miguel, a small town near Tucson. While the three await the stagecoach at a nearby station, a local settler insults Cora and grabs her son, whereupon she breaks her silence, screaming that the man is an animal and that she will kill anyone who harms the boy. Hook punches the troublemaker and secures food and clothing for his charges, and Cora begins to tell Hook about her experiences with Nanchez. In order to survive, she explains, she adopted Apache ways and finally became accustomed to life with the tribe. Cora describes her husband Fred as a kind man who surely will learn to accept Quito as his own son. While riding on the stage, Hook and Cora befriend Jeff Bennett, a young cowboy who has lost his horse in a poker game. At one of the stagecoach's stops, Jeff disembarks while a rancher named Charlie Travers, a Hispanic woman named Señora Sandoval and her pretty granddaughter Consuela climb aboard. The driver, a hardened character named Mr. Trude, takes the stage into open country, but shortly afterward, Jeff learns that Nanchez and some of his braves have escaped from the fort. Certain that Nanchez will come for his son, Jeff borrows a horse and rides out to warn Hook about the escaped Apache. When the stagecoach overturns in an accident, Nanchez appears and demands his son, but Hook refuses to give him up. Travers claims the boy is more Indian than white and should be turned over to the chief, but Jeff and the other passengers sympathize with Cora and order the rancher to be silent. While the men repair the stagecoach, Travers unsuccessfully tries to bribe Cora to give up her son, and the next morning, when Nanchez appears again, Travers offers the chief the same bribe. Nanchez kills Travers, whereupon Hook threatens to shoot little Quito unless Nanchez lets them all go. Nanchez agrees but threatens to match wits with Hook again one day. After bidding farewell to Jeff, who has fallen in love with Consuela, Hook, Cora and Quito take a wagon to Fred's ranch, but Fred refuses to accept Quito into his home. Cora decides to take Quito and depart with Hook, but Fred, pointing a gun at Hook, orders her off the wagon and back into the house. At that moment, Nanchez and his braves attack. Leaping onto the wagon, Fred begins shooting at the Apaches, and after he is hit by a bullet from Nanchez, he kills the Apache and then dies. With nowhere to go, Cora reluctantly supposes she and Quito might live with relatives back East, but Hook, who has grown to love Cora and her son, suggests that they remain with him. Quito winks his approval, and all three break into broad smiles.
Charles Marquis Warren
D. J. Thompson
Charles [h.] Gray
Fred W. Berger
G. W. Berntsen
Sol Baer Fielding
Sol Baer Fielding
Sol Baer Fielding
Vou Lee Giokaris
Fred A. Kessler
Herbert Little Jr.
William D. Woods
Joel McCrea is the title character, Sgt. Clovis Hook, a veteran cavalry officer who discovers a captive white woman among the prisoners, and Barbara Stanwyck is the "white squaw," a silent, distrustful woman who clings to her half-Indian son, who is also the son of Apache Chief, Nanchez (Rodolfo Acosta). Hook is assigned to escort the woman back to her husband (her name is Cora Sutcliff and she was travelling to meet her husband when her stage was attacked by Apaches). The rest of the film plays out like a variation on Stagecoach (1939), with a collection of various characters joining Hook, Cora, and her son Quito on a stage ride to her husband's ranch.
Trooper Hook was a reunion of sorts for Stanwyck and McCrea, who had often been paired up early in their careers, including the lively medical drama Internes Can't Take Money (1937), with McCrea playing Dr. Kildare, and Cecil B. DeMille's epic western Union Pacific (1939). This became their sixth feature together after a fifteen year gap. Both came to the film older and more seasoned, but there was one major difference from the previous films: For the first time, Joel McCrea received top billing.
Joel McCrea, perhaps the most modest of Hollywood movie stars, had great success in dramas and romantic comedies (where his low-key delivery and quiet confidence made him the quintessential strong, silent type) through the thirties and forties, but after World War II, he increasingly turned to westerns. He's right at home here as the career cavalry officer Hook, a man weathered to a leathery toughness, but not so much hard as resilient. He's a survivor and a realist, ruthless when he needs to be but generous and humane by nature. Frontier life has, if anything, given him the courage of his convictions and, in his gruff way, he's protective of Cora and Quito.
Stanwyck, once one of Hollywood's strongest leading ladies, took roles in increasingly smaller pictures as she approached the age of 50, including a number of westerns. The genre proved to be a good fit: The frontier was the perfect setting for the kinds of tough, self-reliant women she excelled at portraying and she was often cast as ranchers and frontier women. Trooper Hook was a very different kind of western role for her, however, one that called upon an inner strength rather than action; she harbors a suspicion of those around her, and a maternal protectiveness of her half-Indian child from the hostile world of white settlements on the frontier. With her hair cropped short and a hateful glare in her eyes, she doesn't say a word for the first twenty minutes or so of Trooper Hook, but when she finally speaks, it comes out with a furious conviction.
A solid cast of character actors provide support, notably young Earl Holliman as a jovial cowpoke who, like Hook, doesn't judge Cora or her son, and Royal Dano as the cranky stage driver, carping about timetables and grumbling at every stop but in his own way as honest and honorable as Hook. Susan Kohner, who later had her big role in Imitation of Life (1959), is a young woman of Spanish-American aristocracy who takes a shine to Holliman's affable cowboy. Tex Ritter sings the theme song, which (as in High Noon, 1952) is reprised throughout the film.
Director Charles Marquis Warren, a veteran of low-budget westerns, essentially created the TV incarnation of Gunsmoke, directing and producing the show's first season and scripting the first episodes. According to biographer Axel Madsen, Stanwyck talked about television with Warren between takes. She wanted to produce a series about frontier women and, while the show never materialized, she soon turned to the small screen and eventually took the lead in the western series The Big Valley (1965-1969), playing a tough matriarch. Though they never worked together again, Warren later praised Stanwyck as "the most magnificent actress I ever worked with and, I think, the finest actress Hollywood has ever turned out."
Producer: Sol Baer Fielding
Director: Charles Marquis Warren
Screenplay: David Victor, Martin Berkeley, Herbert Little, Jr. (screenplay); Charles Marquis Warren (screenplay, uncredited); Jack Schaefer (story)
Cinematography: Ellsworth Fredericks
Art Direction: Nicolai Remisoff (uncredited)
Music: Gerald Fried
Cast: Joel McCrea (Sgt. Clovis Hook), Barbara Stanwyck (Cora Sutliff), Earl Holliman (Jeff Bennett), Edward Andrews (Charlie Travers), John Dehner (Fred Sutliff), Susan Kohner (Consuela, Senora Sandoval's Granddaughter), Royal Dano (Mr. Trude, Stage Driver), Celia Lovsky (Senora Sandoval), Stanley Adams (Heathcliff, the Windmill Salesman).
by Sean Axmaker
"The Films of Barbara Stanwyck," Homer Dickens. 1984. Citadel Press
"Barbara Stanwyck," Al Diora. 1983, Coward-McCann.
"Stanwyck," Axel Madsen. 1994, Harper Collins.
The working title of this film was Sergeant Houck. The film's opening credits appear on pages of a book opened to reveal the words, "A Chronicle of the West." Actor Cyril Delevanti's surname is misspelled "Delivanti" in the onscreen credits. According to news items and information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, M-G-M purchased the screen rights to Jack Schaefer's short story in 1952 and assigned the property to producer Hayes Goetz. The PCA, however, informed the studio that a film based on the story as written could not be approved by them because the cavalry officer, at the end, "is going off to live with this woman who is still, in fact, the wife of another man."
In December 1955, Los Angeles Times reported that the story was to be "packaged to Paramount" by Charles Marquis Warren, who was to write the script as well as direct. In February 1956, Sol Baer Fielding, who had been a producer at M-G-M, purchased the rights to the story from his former studio and made a deal with United Artists to finance and distribute the film, which became the first production of his newly formed Fielding Productions, Inc. An September 18, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item mentioned that Fielding made his film debut in the picture in a small role as a cavalryman. According to a September 20, 1956 Hollywood Reporter casting list, Joel McCrea's son Jody signed on for the feature but he was not in the released film. A September 21, 1956 Hollywood Reporter item added that director Charles Marquis Warren's mother Beatrice, wife Anne and three children Lance, Porter and Anne appeared in the film, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed. According to the pressbook, exterior filming was done in Kanab, UT. An October 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item indicates that Harry Belafonte was to compose three songs for the film's background and sing them for the released film. There is no further information on any contribution by Belafonte to the released film. The title song was sung throughout the film by Tex Ritter. The Variety reviewer commented that Ritter's singing was an attempt to emulate the use of a theme song, as in High Noon, which was also sung by Ritter, but that in Trooper Hook, "It's not too successful, since it intrudes more than informs."
Released in United States Summer June 1957
Released in United States Summer June 1957