FORT APACHE [1948] movie review

December 31, 2011 · Print This Article

I chose to watch FORT APACHE next in my ongoing classic western marathon on the advice of a trusted movie buff friend who said he liked this movie even better than THE MAN WHO KILLED LIBERTY VALANCE. I thought the latter was one of the best westerns I had ever seen, and the former not just one of the worst westerns, one of the worst movies of any genre I have ever seen.

All aspects of the movie are flawed, save for some ok cinematography work, but when you have Monument Valley to work with, that would be really hard to mess up. The pacing of the movie is horrid, in particular a dancing scene. There is yet another case of old movie instant love where a young couple goes on one date and then are in love and want to marry! The main character is an absurd Colonel who has been, much to his dismay, transferred to Fort Apache in the middle of nowhere in Arizona. He is beyond strict and knowing nothing of the west asks for no advice from the soldiers who have been there with years and a wealth of local knowledge.


There is no action to speak of in the movie at all for at least the first half of the film. The only bit of intrigue is seeing the Colonel first show his military tactics. He seems just plain stupid at first, but then reveals his clever plan, though it is highly flawed nonetheless.


Oh yeah, John Wayne is in the movie as a captain who should be the one really in charge of the fort. He is no where near the main character, the Colonel is, so why Wayne is on the movie poster alone is beyond me. He seemed to play an interesting character, but since everything he said was basically summarily dismissed by the insane Colonel, he might have well not even been in the movie.


The only real thing about the movie I liked was seeing Shirley Temple in a non-child role for the first time. If I had not seen her name in the opening credits I do not think I would have recognized her trademark curls.


The ending of the movie, I guess what could be called the climax, is the most absurd thing of all. I simply cannot believe any fort full of soldiers would follow an insane Colonel showing complete disregard for common sense. Basically the Colonel orders everyone to ride into a valley everyone knows is filled with Apache on the high ground who can shoot at them in a crossfire at will from distance. Oh, and they ride in fighting with swords, and then only later manage to break out a pistol or two, again to fight an enemy high up on hills!


The absolute lack of logic in the story just ruined the movie, not even counting scenes that should have never been filmed, like fussing about moving in, setting up furniture, training new soldiers that we never see do anything significant again, etc. In every aspect FORT APACHE Is a bad movie with no entertainment value.



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