Cast & Crew
In 1853, shortly after the end of the war between Mexico and the United States, Apache and Comanche Indians are stepping up their attacks on Mexican ranchers living in the Tucson area. In the hope of putting an end to the Indian raids, Cavalry General Gadsden sends Major Burke to the territory to make peace. Before Burke leaves, Gadsden warns him that the Apache warriors, under the leadership of Cochise, are ferocious fighters. In Tucson, Burke meets town leader Sam Maddock, but is unaware that Maddock is the instigator of trouble between the Indians and the settlers, and that he is forcing the Mexicans out of their homes and taking their land. One Mexican, Felipe, the son-in-law of landowner Don Francisco De Cordova, is especially embittered by the Indian raids, having lost his wife to an Apache arrow. Felipe is equally suspicious of the Americans, who he believes are also interested in taking the Mexicans' land. When Burke is invited to dine at Don Francisco's hacienda, he meets the beautiful Consuelo, Don Francisco's daughter. The visit is interrupted, however, by the unexpected arrival of Cochise. After Cochise and Burke discuss the Cavalry's presence, Cochise leaves vowing to remain at peace with the Americans. Running Cougar, the renegade Comanche leader, rejects the peace agreement, and leads a bloody raid on Don Francisco's hacienda. Cochise and his men arrive in time to save the hacienda, and Running Cougar is killed. Angered by the killing of his brother, the once-peaceful Red Knife announces that he will no longer abide by the peace treaty, even if it means war with the Apaches. Fearing a war with the Comanches, the other Apaches side with Running Cougar, and decide to join the fight against the whites. Realizing that his people are no longer interested in the treaty, Cochise and his wife Terua go to Tucson to meet with Burke. Maddock, meanwhile, conspires with Felipe to kill Cochise, but Felipe accidentally kills Terua instead. Cochise finds the rifle that was used to kill his wife, but before assuming that it was an American who killed her, he decides to give Burke a chance to prove otherwise. Cochise sends a raiding party to Tucson to find a hostage who will be used to force Burke to visit them. In Tucson, the raiding party kills Maddock before abducting Consuelo. Soon after Burke arrives at the camp, he is given four days to prove that the Americans were not responsible for the death of Terua, or face war. While in captivity, Consuelo falls in love with Cochise, who takes her to a romantic place in the wilderness. Back in Tucson, Burke discovers that the rifle used to murder Terua belonged to Corporal Carter, who admits that he got drunk one night and left it at Maddock's saloon. Tracing the rifle to Felipe, Burke wrings a confession from him and takes him to Cochise. The war dance is called off; however, Felipe, who remains unrepentant, makes another unsuccessful attempt to kill Cochise. Felipe is then killed by one of the Apaches. Cochise goes to Red Knife to persuade him to call off the war, but Red Knife refuses to accept Cochise's story and orders his death. Burke and his men arrive in time to save Cochise, and with the help of Apaches who are loyal to Cochise, the Comanches are defeated. Consuelo wishes to remain with Cochise as his wife, but the Apache leader refuses to let her "live the life of a renegade" and insists that she leave with Burke. Consuelo accepts Cochise's wishes and leaves with the hope that the bloodshed has ended.
Robert E. Griffin
Poppy Del Vando
Guy Edward Hearn
De Vallon Scott
De Vallon Scott
Conquest of Cochise
The screenplay from DeVallon Scott and Arthur Lewis, which admittedly played fast and loose with historical fact, opens in post-Mexican-American War Tucson, where Mexican ranchers are striving to cope with regular raids on the part of both the Apache and Comanche nations. General Gadsen (Guy Edward Hearn), eager to salvage the land transaction bearing his name, selects strategist/ladykiller Major Tom Burke (Robert Stack) to lead forces to secure the region and broker a peace with Apache chieftain Cochise (John Hodiak). The Apache leader, for his part, recognizes the toll in blood that continued aggression with the American military will bring; against the wishes of his council, he sets out for a one-on-one with Burke.
Troops bring the warrior chief before the major in the midst of his making a social call at the hacienda of the prominent local rancher Don Francisco de Cordova (Edward Colmans) and his lovely daughter Consuelo (Joy Page). Burke is impressed with the chance Cochise has taken, and a mutual vow for peace is struck. This development galls Comanche renegade Running Cougar (Joseph Waring), who leads a raid on the de Cordova ranch; Cochise aids the military in rebuffing the assault, and Running Cougar is among the casualties. His brother, the chief Red Knife (Rodd Redwing), vows vengeance on the Americans, Mexicanos, and, unless they join sides, the Apache as well. Cochise returns to Tucson with his bride Terua (Carol Thurston) to try and calm the situation; she gets gunned down on the trail by an unknown assailant. Cochise thereafter kidnaps Consuelo for the purpose of drawing Burke out, delivering a four-day ultimatum for the major to prove his protestation that the military wasn't responsible.
Page, best remembered from Casablanca (1942) as the young wife who Bogie lets beat the house, so she can bribe Claude Rains with cash rather than her virtue, had actually been previously teamed with Stack to better effect in director Budd Boetticher's semi-autobiographical drama Bullfighter and the Lady (1951). Sadly, Hodiak's career would only last a handful of pictures--and years--after he completed Conquest of Cochise. The actor had longtime issues with his blood pressure, a fact that actually contributed to the breakout he enjoyed in the early to mid-'40s; he was rendered unfit for military service, and opportunities were plentiful when many of Hollywood's leading men were off fighting World War II. Unfortunately, however, his condition led to a fatal heart attack when the actor was only forty-one years old.
Producer: Sam Katzman
Director: William Castle
Screenplay: Arthur Lewis; DeVallon Scott (screenplay and story)
Cinematography: Henry Freulich
Art Direction: Paul Palmentola
Film Editing: Al Clark
Cast: John Hodiak (Cochise), Robert Stack (Maj. Tom Burke), Joy Page (Consuelo de Cordova), Rico Alaniz (Felipe), Fortunio Bonanova (Mexican Minister), Edward Colmans (Don Francisco de Cordova), Alex Montoya (Jose Antonio Felicisimo de la Vega y Garcia), Steven Ritch (Tukiwah, Cochise's Lieutenant), Carol Thurston (Terua, Cochise's Wife), Rodd Redwing (Red Knife, Comanche Chief), Robert E. Griffin (Sam Maddock, Tucson Bar Owner), Poppy del Vando (Senora de Cordova).
by Jay S. Steinberg
Conquest of Cochise
Robert Stack, 1919-2003
Stack was born in Los Angeles on January 13, 1919 to a well-to-do family but his parents divorced when he was a year old. At age three, he moved with his mother to Paris, where she studied singing. They returned to Los Angeles when he was seven, by then French was his native language and was not taught English until he started schooling.
Naturally athletic, Stack was still in high school when he became a national skeet-shooting champion and top-flight polo player. He soon was giving lessons on shooting to such top Hollywood luminaries as Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, and found himself on the polo field with some notable movie moguls like Darryl Zanuck and Walter Wanger.
Stack enrolled in the University of Southern California, where he took some drama courses, and was on the Polo team, but it wasn't long before some influential people in the film industry took notice of his classic good looks, and lithe physique. Soon, his Hollywood connections got him on a film set at Paramount, a screen test, and eventually, his first lead in a picture, opposite Deanna Durbin in First Love (1939). Although he was only 20, Stack's natural delivery and boyish charm made him a natural for the screen.
His range grew with some meatier parts in the next few years, especially noteworthy were his roles as the young Nazi sympathizer in Frank Borzage's chilling The Mortal Storm (1940), with James Stewart, and as the Polish flier who woos a married Carole Lombard in Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be (1942).
After serving as a gunnery officer in the Navy during World War II, Stack returned to the screen, and found a few interesting roles over the next ten years: giving Elizabeth Taylor her first screen kiss in Robert Thorp's A Date With Judy (1948); the leading role as an American bullfighter in Budd Boetticher's The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951); and as a pilot in William Wellman's The High and the Mighty (1954), starring John Wayne. However, Stack saved his best dramatic performances for Douglas Sirk in two knockout films: as a self-destructive alcoholic in Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind (1956), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for supporting actor; and sympathetically portraying a fallen World War I pilot ace who is forced to do barnstorming stunts for mere survival in Tarnished Angels (1958).
Despite proving his capabilities as a solid actor in these roles, front rank stardom oddly eluded Stack at this point. That all changed when Stack gave television a try. The result was the enormously popular series, The Untouchables (1959-63). This exciting crime show about the real-life Prohibition-era crime-fighter Eliot Ness and his G-men taking on the Chicago underworld was successful in its day for several reasons: its catchy theme music, florid violence (which caused quite a sensation in its day), taut narration by Walter Winchell, and of course, Stack's trademark staccato delivery and strong presence. It all proved so popular that the series ran for four years, earned an Emmy for Stack in 1960, and made him a household name.
Stack would return to television in the late '60s, with the The Name of the Game (1968-71), and a string of made-for-television movies throughout the '70s. His career perked up again when Steven Spielberg cast him in his big budget comedy 1941 (1979) as General Joe Stillwell. The film surprised many viewers as few realized Stack was willing to spoof his granite-faced stoicism, but it won him over many new fans, and his dead-pan intensity would be used to perfect comic effect the following year as Captain Rex Kramer (who can forget the sight of him beating up Hare Krishnas at the airport?) in David and Jerry Zucker's wonderful spoof of disaster flicks, Airplane! (1980).
Stack's activity would be sporadic throughout the remainder of his career, but he returned to television, as the host of enormously popular Unsolved Mysteries (1987-2002), and played himself in Lawrence Kasden's comedy-drama Mumford (1999). He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Rosemarie Bowe Stack, a former actress, and two children, Elizabeth and Charles, both of Los Angeles.
by Michael T. Toole
Robert Stack, 1919-2003
December 1952 Hollywood Reporter news items indicate that Charles Stevens and Joanne Rio were cast in the film. The file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, contains a November 28, 1952 letter from the PCA to Columbia production head Harry Cohn, in which PCA official Joseph I. Breen urged the studio to avoid excessive violence in the film, and to use caution in the characterization of Mexicans. In particular, Breen expressed concern about one scene in which "Felipe" was to have committed suicide in order to avoid punishment under the law, and another scene showing the lynching of a Mexican farmer. Although the lynching scene remained in the final film, the suicide was eliminated. For more information about the real-life Cochise, for Fort Apache.