Indian scout Tom Jeffords (James Stewart) is sent out to stem the war between the Whites and Apaches in the late 1870s. He learns (through an uncomfortably close encounter) that the Indians kill only to protect themselves, or out of retaliation for white atrocities. Befriending the sagacious Apache leader Cochise (Jeff Chandler), Jeffords ensures safe passage for white mail-carriers through Indian territory. As he becomes closer to his Native American "brothers", Jeffords falls in love with and weds a pretty Apache girl ...
Indian scout Tom Jeffords (James Stewart) is sent out to stem the war between the Whites and Apaches in the late 1870s. He learns (through an uncomfortably close encounter) that the Indians kill only to protect themselves, or out of retaliation for white atrocities. Befriending the sagacious Apache leader Cochise (Jeff Chandler), Jeffords ensures safe passage for white mail-carriers through Indian territory. As he becomes closer to his Native American "brothers", Jeffords falls in love with and weds a pretty Apache girl (Debra Paget). This being a 1950 film (miscegenation was frowned upon by the Production Code), you can guess what happens to her. Jeffords wants to avenge his bride's death at the hands of white renegades, but it is the so-called "savage" Cochise who advises him not to. Having learned much from each other, Jeffords and Cochise symbolize the white/Indian detente with the traditional broken arrow. This superb, non-condescending film has been criticized in some circles because of the alleged depiction of Cochise as an Indian "Uncle Tom", and because actor Jeff Chandler was not a genuine Native American. Nonetheless, Broken Arrow stands the test of time far more successfully than the later, politically correct Dances with Wolves. In 1956, Broken Arrow was adapted into a TV series starring John Lupton as Jeffords and Michael Ansara as Cochise. Hal Erickson, Rovi
This 1950 western is known for its sympathetic portrayal of American Indians, unlike many of the films in the genre before and after its release. The film is based on a 1947 historical novel "Blood Brother" by Elliott Arnold which also became the basis for a television series.. Delmer Davis directed this film, in addition to directing another famous western, "The 3:10 to Yuma" in 1957 which I saw a few days ago.
"Broken Arrow" tells the story of the Apache and their famed leader Cochise and the treaty he made with the United States in 1872. It is narrated by Tom Jeffords, played by James Stewart, a historical character who helped negotiate the peace. Jeff Chandler played Cochise. Jeffords is a main character in the film as well as providing the occasional narrative voice.
The film shows the gradual development of an unlikely friendship between Cochise and Jeffords. In the process, Cochise is strongly portrayed as a leader of his people and as a man of honor. The Apache too are portrayed positively as the fight to protect their land and their way of life. Jeffords is shown as courageously opening a path to negotiation between the Apache and the Federal government. In the process he falls in love with and marries a young Apache woman, Sonseensaray, performed by 15-year old Debra Paget. This part of the story is fictitious. Some of the famous scenes in the movie, such as Apache wedding ceremony performed in the film or Cochise breaking an arrow as a symbol of peace are not based on historical fact but they are effective and moving in the context of the film and its theme. The film shows the trust that gradually develops between Cochise and Jeffords which ultimately allows for an armistice and a fragile treaty. The treaty holds in the face of provocations from dissatisfied whites and a renegade group of Apache led by Geronimo, played by Jay Silverheels.
The movie is highly emotional in its depiction of and sympathy for the Apache, in its story of the relationship between Jeffords and Cochise,and in the romance. The film is set in the Arizona mountains and desert and in the town of Tuscon, with realistic and effective cinematography and technicolor.
"Broken Arrow" received a Globe Award for Best Film Promoting International Understanding for its story of peace and cooperation between the Apache people and the United States, and it has become a famous film in the western genre. I have been watching westerns during the on-going pandemic as I find this genre still has something to contribute to Americans understanding of themselves.I was moved greatly by this film and was glad to find it and see it at last.
May 24, 2012
This would probably be better as a three star movie since the plot was predictable but Jimmie Stewart saved the day. He was natural in the role and gave a very convincing performance.
Stewart plays Tom Jeffords who is caught between the Apaches and the settlers. While he had not been taking part, Jeffords soon becomes determined too just stop the bloodshed. He also finds that the Indians are being wronged and tries to help them.
Jeffords impresses the Apaches with his understanding of their ways and his bravery and becomes friends with the great chief Cochise. He also falls in love with a young Indian woman and this strengthens his loyalty to the Indians while making his relations with the whites worse.
Eventually Jeffords helps negotiate a treaty but then his work is cut out for him to keep both sides to comply.
Aside from the ending being predictable, I think that it is still a watchable, if not very feel-good movie.