Indian Uprising (1952)

 

 

 

 

Director:   Ray Nazarro

Starring:   George Montgomery (Capt. Chase McCloud), Audrey Long (Norma Clemson), Carl Benton Reid (John Clemson), Eugene Iglesias (Sgt. Ramirez), John Baer (Lt. Whitley), Joe Sawyer (Sgt. Maj. Phineas T. Keogh), Robert Foster Dover (Tubai), Eddy Waller (Sagebrush), Douglas Kennedy (Cliff Taggert), Robert Shayne (Maj. Nathan Stark), Miguel Inclán (Geronimo), Hugh Sanders (Ben Alsop).

White settlers try to get the cavalry to chase the Apaches from their land.

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

The cavalry come upon an Apache massacre.  The men are pretty disgusted by the ugly scene before them.  The trail of the Apache leads off in the direction of Snake Canyon. 

Captain Chase McCloud and his men set up a trap for the Apache.  They send a small supply wagon through Snake Canyon.  An Apache sentry spots the wagon and runs to tell Geronimo about it.  The Apache start chasing after the wagon.  The soldiers with the wagon stop the wagon and prepare to fire on their Apache pursuers.  As the Apache come around the bend, the soldiers open up on them killing quite a few of the pursuers.  Then the cavalry comes riding up behind the Apaches and they surrender rather than be wiped out.  Geronimo is not with the group and the men are disappointed but the Captain says Geronimo is too smart to let himelf be captured in a trap like this.  They do, however, catch Geronimo's son. 

The sergeant has to use a little force to encourage the son to get down off his horse.  He goes with the Apache over to see the Captain.  The Indian pulls out his knife to try and stab McCloud, but the Captain grabs his knife hand and stops him.  The other soldiers grab the would-be assassin.  The son says this was his first raid and he will do better on the next raid.  The Captain says there won't be any next time for him. 

The Captain puts the young man on the front of his saddle and then he and some of his men slowly enter Geronimo's camp.  He has his translator speak in Spanish to Geronimo to tell him that the Captain has a message for Geronimo from General Crook.  The General asks that Geronimo return to the reservation land and live in peace.  Geronimo lists a set of grievances he has against the white men, especially those that have been coming into their hunting grounds looking for gold.  The Captain says that if Geronimo will return to the reservation, he will see to it that all the gold seekers are chased off their hunting grounds.  Geronimo says that the Captain must drive off the gold seekers before he will bring his people back onto the reservation.  And the Captain must release Geronimo's son, Tubai. 

The Captain agrees and lets Tubai go.  Tubai grabs a lance and wants to attack the soldiers, but Geronimo stops him.  He allows the cavalry to leave peacefully. 

In town the gold seekers complain to the gold businessman Ben Alsop that the army chased them out of the gold prospecting area.  And they are hopping mad about it.   The businessman says he will look into the situation and see if this matter might be solved without much trouble.  He says he wants to protect his interest and theirs both.  The owner of the local saloon tells the prospectors to go over to the bar and tell the bartender that the drinks are on the house courtesy of the owner of the place.  The prospectors start walking to the saloon. 

Geronimo and some of his men go to a military council to say that as long as the whites keep their promises, he will keep his pledge to come into the reservation.  Meanwhile, one of the Apaches steals Sgt. Major Keogh's revolver out of its holster.  Luckily the Captain saw this and retrieves the weapon. 

The Captain goes to see Norma Clemson.  She congratulates Chase on getting Geronimo to go back to the reservation.  He says he kind of wishes Geronimo wasn't going back to the reservation, because that means that Norma and her father will leave the fort and also go back to the reservation.  Norma says that she and her father are going to open a school for the Apache children.  The Captain starts a little fight with Norma because he doesn't like the idea of a school for the Apache.  Norma says that Chase would rather shoot the Indians.  Chase tells her that he will be back at 6 p.m. for supper. 

Cliff Taggert and another businessman, Daniel Avery, comes over to talk with the Captain.  Cliff says they are two prominent Tucson businessmen.   They came to thank the Captain for his services in getting Geronimo back to the reservation.  The people took up a collection for the Captain as a way of thanking him and now they present $2,500 dollars to Chase.  Of course, they ask for the Captain's help concerning the gold situation.  The Glareno Mountains are included in the reservation area and they would like to see those mountains be made available to the people of Tucson.  They want Captain McCloud to provide protection for the miners and prospectors as they go back to work in those mountains.

The Captain gets angry and tells the men off.  He then throws Avery out the door and slugs Taggert in the face to knock him out of the doorway.  Both men land in the dust of the parade field.  Chase now throws their money back at them. 

Captain McCloud gets into a bit of trouble for throwing out the businessmen.  Even the Indian Commissioner says that such behavior from the "Indian lovers" can't be tolerated.  "The people of Tucson are aroused."

Since the army won't supply the gold interests with protection, the businessmen buy their own security guards.  With the guards protecting them, two prospectors set off a dynamite explosion to get at the gold faster.  Two Apaches hear the explosion and ride fast on their horses toward the sound.  The guards start shooting at them and the Indians turn their horses around to get away, but one of the Apaches is shot and falls off his horse. 

Now the cavalry arrives at the mine.  McCloud sees Taggert and the old man Sage Brush.  He balls the two men out for being in these mountains.  Then the Captain sees the wounded Apache waiting with a noose around his neck.  He recognizes the man as Tubai.  The Captain orders the man taken down.  So Taggert rushes over and knocks the stand out from beneath the Apache's feet.  McCloud rides over and uses his sword to cut the rope and Tubai falls to the ground.  Taggert draws his gun to shoot the Apache, but McCloud hits the man's gun hand with the blunt-edge of his sword, knocking the revolver out of Taggert's hand. 

The Captain and his men take the miners and guards to the sheriff and McCloud tells the sheriff to put these trespassers in jail for being on federal land.  A businessman tries to rile up the populace and they start shouting that the Captain is just another "Indian lover".  Ben Alsop comes over and soothes the crowd down and gets the cavalry out of some possible trouble. 

A Major Nathan Starke comes to McCloud and tells him that he's in charge of the First Squadron now. 

Alsop plans to have a white man murdered and blame it on the Apaches.  He talks to prospector Sage Brush about it, but Sage Brush doesn't like the idea.  As Sage Brush talks to Alsop, one of Alsop's men shoots an arrow into Sage Brush's back. 

Geronimo comes to McCloud to tell him thanks for saving his son's life.  Then he says that the Apache need their own place, one not constantly patrolled by the American military.  McCloud tells Geronimo not to worry because Major Starke is an honorable man.  Geronimo turns and leaves with his warriors.  McCloud goes over to talk with Norma.  He is worried about her because Geronimo seems so concerned about what's going on.  Norma says she thinks the new post commander might welcome a little Apache uprising.  Then Starke and the cavalry can exterminate the local Apaches once and for all. 

Taggert comes to the reservation with a lot of white gunmen.  He has a wagon with him and in the back of the wagon is the dead body of Sage Brush.  Taggert says the Apache killed Sage Brush and he and the men have come to settle the score.  McCloud tells him not to harm the Indians gathered around the reservation headquarters.  Taggert has his men start to surround the Indians.  McCloud orders his men forward and warns Taggert not to harm these Apaches.  This scares off some of the white men and they take off.  McCloud orders his men to fire into the air, but Taggert just sees this futile gesture as a sign of weakness on the part of McCloud.  He orders his men to shoot the Apache men down.  The shooting starts.  So McCloud orders his men to fire at the white men.  They do.  Some of the white men are hit and fall to the ground.  But other white men return fire and hit some of cavalry men.  When it looks like there's going to be a blood bath, Taggert tells everyone to ride out of here.  The white men take off. 

Only Tubai is a survivor.  He gets on his horse and takes off for home. 

And now Geronimo is back on the war path.  The towns people are furious and demand that Major Starke turn McCloud over to them, so he can be tried for the murder of the white townsmen.  Starke says he can't do that, because this is a military matter.  And, besides, they will have to wait for Gen. Cook's return before anything can be done. 

McCloud is now under fort arrest.  He may not go outside the fort and has to give up his sword and revolver.  Norma is there and says how sorry she is about what's happening to Chase.  He tells her to never waste her sympathy on a cavalry man.  He leaves Starke's office. 

McCloud has to stand and watch as the cavalry goes out on a mission. The sign over his head says:  "Fifth Cavalry, Fort Steed (?)". 

Geronimo sets up a trap for the Fifth Cavalry.  A small group of Apache retreat into a canyon.  Starke wants to chase after them, but the sergeant major advises him against it.  Starke says:  "This is still the cavalry."  So they go charging after the Apache headed into the canyon.  The cavalry run into an ambush.

Norma and a soldier come to show McCloud that the arrow from Sage Brush's back is not an Apache arrow at all.  It's an Arapahoe arrow and they live in Colorado, not Arizona.  The soldier with Norma says they think this whole thing is a frame-up to get rid of the Apache once and for all.  Norma urges McCloud to go and do some detective work to clear his name.  They are interrupted by the news that Geronimo has Starke and his men penned down in Snake Canyon.  The officer now in charge of the fort wants to know what McCloud would do if it was he who was in command.  McCloud tells the officer that he should think up a solution himself.  The commander says if he takes the remaining troops to Snake Canyon, the Apache might attack and destroy the fort.  He then says that they will contact Fort Bowie for help. 

McCloud goes to Avery's room.  With a revolver in his hand, he tells Avery to start drinking his own bottle of whiskey.  McCloud asks him if he or Taggert have been in Colorado?   Avery says no.  Has Taggert ever been around the Arapahoe?  He might have been.  McCloud makes Avery drink too much whiskey.  He faints away. 

McCloud hides and waits.  He watches as Avery goes over to see Alsop.  Avery warns Alsop that McCloud is snooping around for information, but he's not sure what he really wants.  Avery now faints and falls to the floor.  McCloud comes in with his pistol pointed at Alsop.  He shows the arrow to Alsop and wants to know if he has seen this type of arrow before?  No.  Then McCloud sees the same arrows and the bow, which turns out to be the murder weapon. 

McCloud is escorting a tied-up Alsop away from the town.  Taggert sees this and puts a bullet in Alsop's back.  Now McCloud goes after Taggert in the mountains.  He gets the drop on Taggert.  Taggert drops his guns, but when McCloud looks down to start up toward Taggert, the latter grabs a rock and throws it at McCloud.  McCloud has the gun knocked out of his hand.  Taggert now jumps on McCloud and the fight begins.  McCloud knocks Taggert into a small stream. 

McCloud with Taggert goes through the Apache lines to the pinned-down cavalry men.  He goes to talk with Major Starke.  He says he can stop all this by getting to talk to Geronimo and tell him he was tricked into this fighting.  Starke is mad at McCloud and demands to know what does McCloud means by the line that Geronimo was tricked?  The Captain tells Taggert to tell Starke about the plot to start a war with Geronimo.  Taggert says he has nothing to say.  So McCloud tells Stark that Taggert is the one who killed prospector Sage Brush and now he just killed Alsop. 

Starke believes McCloud and McCloud gets permission to speak with Geronimo.  Geronimo says there can be no peace when the white men will not keep their promises.  McCloud explains that there were three evil white men who fooled both the whites and the Apaches.  Geronimo says now he cannot trust McCloud's words.  So McCloud asks the chief to come with him to see Major Starke.  Geronimo agrees to meet with Starke.  They get together, but Geronimo wants the Major to swear here and now that this new agreement will not be violated.  McCloud tells the Major that Geronimo wants to hear Starke say the words, but Starke says he cannot.  And now a detachment of the cavalry ride up on the Apache and take them prisoner.  Starke says that the Apache soldiers will now be sent to Florida and will stay in prison there at Fort Marion in Saint Agustine. 

McCloud is furious with the army and he wants to resign.  He says the army won victory dishonorably.  Starke explains that he was under orders to make Geronimo surrender unconditionally.  So he had to do what he did.

McCloud tells Geronimo that he was not part of the trick Starke used to trap the great Indian leader.  McCloud feels dishonored.  Geronimo tells him to forget that because McCloud's sword was the only sword ever raised up by a white man in defense of the Indians. 

With Geronimo's encouraging words, McCloud decides not to resign from the army.  And now he talks with Norma.  He tells the sergeant major to go get him a huge bouquet of flowers and meet him in the chapel.  Today he's marrying Norma. 

 

It feels like the film was chopped up to make it ready to be shown on television.  There are too many abrupt stops and starts.  Well, it doesn't really matter because the movie is too far off the truth to justify an historian watching it.  I wouldn't recommend it because of its poor history.  Otherwise, the film is okay to watch just for fun.  George Montgomery was good as Captain Chase McCloud. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

See Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)  

 

 

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