Daniel Boone, Trail Blazer (1956)

 

 

 

Director:     Albert C. Gannaway, Ismael Rodríguez. 

Starring:     Bruce Bennett (Daniel Boone), Lon Chaney Jr. (Blackfish), Faron Young (Faron Callaway), Kem Dibbs (Simon Girty), Damian O'Flynn (Andy Callaway), Jacqueline Evans (Rebecca Boone), Nancy Rodman (Susannah Boone), Freddy Fernández (Israel Boone), Carol Kelly (Jamima Boone), Eduardo Noriega (Squire Boone), Fred Kohler Jr. (Kenton), Gordon Mills (John Holder), Claude Brook (James Boone), Joe Ainley (General Hamilton), Lee Morgan (Smitty).

Barely o.k. film about the famous pioneer.

 

It is the period of the American Revolution. 

Jim Boone, the son of the famous trail blazer, wants to continue with the group of men he is with to reach the fort at Boonesborough.  But the co-leader of the overrides him and the group makes camp for the night.  A group of Shawnee Indians together with Simon Girty attack the group of whites.  One of the group escapes from the attack and runs to the fort at Boonesborough.  He tells Daniel Boone of the attack.  Daniel heads out to the sight of the attack and finds that James has been tortured, scalped and killed. 

The whites in Boonesborough are worried about an attack on the fort.  They are anxious about whether Squire Boone and his wagon trains will gets through to the fort before the Indians attack.  The three youngest of the Boone children are with the wagon train.  Daniel Boone and a small group of men are soon to head out to see if they can make contact with the wagon train. 

There is a love story of sorts between the young Faron Callaway and Susannah Boone. 

Simon Glirty tells Chief Black Fish of the Shawnee that they must move against the whites at Boonesborough before too many whites come to the area.  Black Fish and Boone are blood brothers, so he will give Boone just one last warning about leaving the area.  The chief tells Boone to leave, but Boone was either not listening to the Chief or ignoring the message.  Boone and his men then leave to meet with the wagon train.

The Shawnee ambush the wagon train just as Boone and his men were about to reach it.  They spare the children and take a few white prisoners.  The next morning Boone and his men trick the Indians into chasing shadows and then move in to grab the wagon carrying the children.  They are able to get the children to Boonesborough safely.   The Indians chase Boone, but he is able to elude them. 

Perhaps a little to confident for his own good, Boone walks into the Indian camp to talk with Black Fish about peace.  Black Fish is not pleased.  He tells Boone that if he can run through the gauntlet and survive, then he will talk with him about peace.  Boone is badly beaten but makes it to the end of the gauntlet.  He then convinces Black Fish to send his two sons to speak with the whites at Boonesborough to learn that they want peace, not war. 

As the two sons and a small group of braves walks toward Boonesborough, the British Red Coats open fire on them.  (Simon Girty set up the ambush.)  All the Shawnee are killed except for one of Black Fish's sons, White Fox, who manages to hide from the soldiers.

When Black Fish comes upon the massacre, Boone has to run for his life.  Boones doubles back on the Indians and hears the calls of White Fox for help.  Boone manages to rescue White Fox, trapped by the cold waters of the river in a cave-like area, and he takes the brave to Boonesborugh.  At the fort the whites desperately try to keep White Fox alive so he might be able to tell his father that it was the Red Coats, and not the Americans, who ambushed the Shawnee braves. 

The Shawnee and Simon Girty attack the fort.  The situation for the whites does not look good.  And then it gets worse as White Fox dies. 

Then Boone comes up with a rather far-fetched idea.  He grabs the body of the now deceased son of Black Fish and stands in full view of the front gate of the fort.  The defenders then open the gate and Black Fish walks in to see his son with Boone.  Boone tells the chief, that if he wants to know who killed his son, he should pretend to be talking to White Fox. Then Boone points with the dead man's hand to Simon Girty behind the chief.  Girty panics and starts to run.  Black Fish throws his hatchet at Girty, killing him. 

 

The movie is not much of anything.  Lon Chaney played a lot of Indians in his career and he is his usual sad-sack self.  No one really stands out in the movie as far as the performances are concerned.  It's pretty standard fare.  The quality of the movie on DVD itself is poor. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

See Young Daniel Boone (1950)

 

1774  --  the Shawnees were defeated by Virginia in Lord Dunmore's War.   A number of Shawnee chiefs refused to accept the loss of their traditional hunting grounds in Kentucky.

1775  -- the Transylvania Company founded. 

1775 (March 19)  --  in the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals, the Cherokees ceded to the Transylvania Company the land between the Kentucky River and the highlands south of the Cumberland.

1775 (April 1)  --  Daniel Boone and his men reached the Kentucky River.  They established Kentucky’s second settlement at what they called Fort Boonesborough.  The fort had 26 one-story, log cabins. 

The fort guarded hundreds of settlers who traveled via the Wilderness to the Western frontier through the Cumberland Gap.

1775 (December)  -- the fort was attacked by a large party of Indians.

1776 (July)  --  the Calloway girls and Boones' daughter were captured, but rescued later. 

1777 (April)  --  the fort was attacked for a second time.

1777 (July)  --  the fort was attacked for a third time.

1777 (November)  -- murder of Shawnee Chief Cornstalk. 

1778 (January 30)  -- Daniel Boone and 30 men from the fort traveled to the Lower Blue Licks to gather salt.

1778 (February 7)  --   the Shawnees, out to take revenge for the murder of Shawnee Chief Cornstalk, captured Daniel Boone and his men.  Chief Blackfish was the war chief of the Chillicothe division of the Shawnee tribe.  They took the men up to Detroit, where Lt. Gov. Henry Hamilton paid a bounty for the men, except for Boone, who the Chief refused to turn over to the British.  The Chief came to like Boone so much that he adopted him.  The Chief nicknamed him "Sheltowee" or Big Turtle.

1778 (June)  --  learning that the Shawnee were going to attack Boonesborough, Boone escaped and returned to the fort there.  He was greeted with suspicion because he had adopted so many Shawnee customs.  (In fact, they later tried him for treason; he was acquitted.)

1778 (fall)  --  the "Great Siege of Boonesborough."  400 Indians, including Chief Blackfish, attacked Fort Boonesborough.  Boone was in command of sixty sharpshooters.  The siege lasted thirteen days.  The pioneers had two killed, while the enemy had thirty-seven killed. 

1779 (spring)  --  Colonel John Bowman counterattacked the Shawnees is Chillicothe. The raid was not successful, but Blackfish was wounded in the leg, it became infected and he eventually died of the infection.

by 1830  --  Boonesborough virtually ceased to exist.

1963  --  57 acres were deeded to the Department of Parks to establish Fort Boonesborough State Park.

 

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