Broken Arrow (1950/20th Century Fox)
Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Film: B
three films that mark a major transition in the Hollywood Western, Delmer
Davies’ Broken Arrow (1950) does not
get as much credit for its boldness and groundbreaking achievements as High Noon or Johnny Guitar, but after watching it for the first time in a while
in this nice new upgrade from Fox on DVD deserves a level of critical
rediscovery long overdue.
Stewart in one of his best roles plays Tom Jeffords, who is willing to meet the
controversial and hated Native American figure Cochise (Jeff Chandler) if it
means a piece agreement, but a immense atmosphere of hate, entitlement and
racism is likely to foil this including his being targeted. It gets worse when he falls for Sonseeahray
(Debra Paget) and she falls in love with him.
This was gutsy beyond belief in 1950 and holds up very well 57 years
later, as important about genocide, racism and discrimination as ever. It challenges the classic Revenge Western Winchester ‘73 as Stewart’s greatest
Western and it seems forces from the extreme left and right have their reasons
for wanting to assassinate the film.
theory community is particularly responsible for this and if you see this film,
you’ll be very impressed. The only thing
that dates it are the actors playing Native Americans.
X 1 image was shot by cinematographer Ernest Palmer towards the end of an
amazing career that began in the 1910s in silent film! Here he uses three-strip dye-transfer
Technicolor and that was the kind where you had to shoot three strips of black
and white. He has worked with Fox often,
including on the Charlie Chan series and classics like It Could Happen To You and Blood
& Sand. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
and Mono are fine for their age, including one of the better scores of Hugo
Friedhofer. Can’t wait to see this in
Extras include two brief Fox Movietone News pieces tied to the film (one on the
new 50-star U.S. flag, the other the giving of Paget’s “Indian” outfit to a
real life Native American), pressbook pages with reproductions of text enlarged
for this DVD, poster gallery, “restored credits” offer the fake writer’s name
created over the blacklist, the original theatrical trailer for this film and
five for other Fox Western DVD releases.
- Nicholas Sheffo