by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Apache (1954)

Jack   C

IMDB    5.9

Tribe(s) : Apache

Language : English, Apache



   Set in 1868 Arizona, Valley of the Sun, is a movie that tries to get in every Indian movie cliche in the book. It has the stagecoach chase, the one on one battle between the white hero and the evil Indian, Indians speaking in broken English, the bad Indian agent, flaming arrows, smoke signals, the Plains headdress (on Apaches!), hatchet and knife throwing contests, the tipi and we even get Geronimo and Cochise. The movie uses a bunch of Pueblo Indians as extras (although the main Indian roles are white actors), so we get their ceremonial outfits and their hoop dancing.

The movie stars James Craig and Lucille Ball, and made during the war has some comedic elements. Jonathan Ware (Craig) is a friend of the Apache and is interested in getting them fair treatment from Washington. The movie culminates with him defeating the cowardly Geronimo in some one on one test of skill and bravery. Another great example of putting the white man in the native environment and he will of course emerge as the best (see Tarzan, Last of the Mohicans, The Last Samurai etc.).

The Indians and Craig did go through the motions of speaking Apache, but they were probably speaking gibberish or maybe one of the Pueblo dialects. It lists as cast members "Indians from the pueblos of Taos, Santa Clara, Jemes, San Juan and Tesuque".

This movie is a really good example of how Hollywood ignored the cultural traits of a particular tribe (Apache) and just used any Indian tropes associated with Indians of any tribe.

The Indians, led by Geronimo, attack the town Craig of course wins Lucy from the evil Indian agent in the end and they ride off in the stagecoach.