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USA 1950
Directed by
Delmer Daves
93 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Broken Arrow

Adapted from the book by Elliott Arnold "Blood Brother", Broken Arrow is a fact-based story of the peace efforts made in 1870 in the Arizona Territory between Cochise (Jeff Chandler) and former Civil War cavalry soldier, Captain Tom Jeffords (James Stewart).

Although dated in some respects, notably the casting of Chandler as the Chiricahua Apache, Cochise (he also played him in two subsequent  movies The Battle at Apache Pass, 1952, and Taza, Son Of Cochise, 1954) and Debra Paget as the young squaw Sonseeahray (suitably glamourised thanks to the make-up department) who, in the best Hollywood tradition, falls for James Stewart’s paternalistic Army scout, Tom Jeffords, Broken Arrow is for its day, a benchmark film in its representation of  the relations between the White Man and the Native American.

Made at a time when America was in the grip of Cold War paranoia it shows how bigotry demonizes The Other and legitimates atrocity in the name of “civilization”.  This is not altogether surprising as although credited to Michael Blankfort, the script is by Albert Maltz, a HUAC blacklisted writer whilst director Delmer Daves who had close ties with leftist film-makers of the time had spent much time living on reservations with Hopi and Navajo Indians. Although rather stilted in execution this is made up for by the excellent landscape photography of Edward Palmer whose career stretched back to the early days of silent movies.





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