Hondo Lane: A man oughta do what he thinks is right.
Set in 1870, a man comes walking in from the mountains in to an isolated ranch. It's Hondo Lane (John Wayne) and his dog Sam. He has been attacked by Apaches and they killed his horse. On the ranch is Angie Lowe and her son Johnny. Hondo tells Angie that the Apaches, led by Vittorio, a Chiricahua Apache, have called a war council. Angie tells him that they have always got along with the Apaches. Hondo says: "We broke that treaty, us whites. There's no word in the Apache language for lie, and they've been lied to. And if they rise there won't be a white left in the territory." Hondo tells Angie that he is part Indian.
Hondo then tells Angie that he used to live with the Mescalero for five years and had an Indian squaw who has since died. He was very fond of Destarti and he tells Angie that she reminds him of her. Hondo borrows a horse and leaves to go in to the fort. The Apaches, led by Vittorio, show up. Johnny, trying to protect his mother, takes a shot at one, much to the amusement of the other Apaches. Vittorio admires his spirit and makes him a blood brother. Vittorio says :"Him now blood brother. I'll call him small warrior. Him belong Moondog lodge, Chiricahua Apache. You care for him well. You now mother Chiricahua warrior. Live safely here." He then tells Angie that his own sons are dead. "White men killed them."
Vittorio leads the Chiricahua's on the warpath. While in town Hondo runs in to Angie's no good husband, Ed Lowe,who seems to have abandoned his wife and son. Vittorio starts coming around the ranch to visit Johnny. He tells Angie that "small warrior should have father." When Vittorio returns he brings some warriors for Angie to pick a husband from. Angie says she is married, but Vittorio tells her that if does not return by the time of the planting rain she must pick a warrior for a husband.
Ed Lowe follows Hondo when he leaves the fort and intends to ambush him, but Apaches attack him first. Hondo saves him from the attack, but Lowe tries to shoot Hondo and Hondo, warned by Sam, finishes him off. The Apaches return in force and capture Hondo. Silva, an Apache chief, tells Hondo that "You will take long time die". Vittorio arrives and asks Hondo where soldiers are, but Hondo won't talk. The Apaches are ready to put burning wood on the spread-eagled Hondo, when a brave discovers Johhny's picture, which Hondo had taken from Ed Lowe, in his possessions. Vittorio frees Hondo, who he thinks is Johnny's father, but Silva challenges him to a knife fight because Hondo had killed his brother. Hondo wins the fight and Silva gives up his right to 'blood rite'.
Vittorio brings Hondo to Angie and she tells him that he is her husband. Vittorio says: "White man, you live with the Apache, that's good. You know how small warrior should be taught that he be honored son of wickiup of one is called Vittorio. Watch like the hawk, be patient as the beaver, brave as puma that he may learn well. know it then or your dying will be long before your welcomed death." Hondo tells Angie about Ed Lowe's death but she doesn't seem too disappointed.
Vittorio comes and talks to Hondo.
Vittorio: You are Apache. Now, hear me. Pony soldiers are near. Soon will be ford-remembered fight. They will come here first. You will not go with them, white man.
Hondo Lane: I will not.
Vittorio: Leader of pony soldiers will question you. You will say you see Apache trailing to the west.
Hondo Lane: [refusing to comply with the additional instruction] This I will not do.
Vittorio: You will not?
Hondo Lane: I will not.
Vittorio: [to Mrs. Lowe] You have good man. Treasure him.
Hondo tells Angie: "He was testing me. Indians hate lies."
After Vittorio is killed, Silva leads the Apaches in an attack on a wagon train of escaping settlers, but Hondo and the cavalry fight them off. Silva attacks Hondo but Hondo finishes him off with a knife and the attack in finished.
Lt. McKay: "General Crook will be her in a month with a large force.
Buffalo Baker: "That will be the end of the Apache."
Hondo: "Yep. End of a way of life. too bad. It's a good way."
Beautifully filmed, the movie won an Oscar nomination for Geraldine Page in her first role, for her role as Angie Lowe. The movie shows the Apaches as brave warriors, who wouldn't tolerate lying. Vittorio is portrayed as a noble leader fighting for his land and his people against lying, treaty-breaking invaders. The movie didn't portray the Indians who gave in to the whites as good Indians, and those who resisted as bad Indians. They did use broken English and white actors for the Indians, but overall, this was a really good movie.