AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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I Killed Geronimo
Director: John Hoffman (Dir)
Release Date:   8 Aug 1950
Production Date:   early--mid-Jun 1950
Duration (in mins):   62
Duration (in feet):   5,611
Duration (in reels):   7
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Cast:   James Ellison (Captain Packard [also known as Jeff Smith])  
    Virginia Herrick (Julie [Scott])  
    Chief Thunder Cloud (Geronimo)  
    Smith Ballew (Lieutenant Furness)  
    Luther Crockett (Major [Clem] French)  
    Jean Andren (Mrs. [Martha] French)  
    Ted Adams ([Walt] Anderson)  
    Myron Healy (Frank [Cochran])  
    Wesley Hudman (Red)  
    Sam Wolfe (Jennings)  
    Joseph J. Greene (Paymaster)  
    Jack Kenney (Sergeant Meade)  
    Dennis Moore (Luke)  
    Hart Wayne (General Ives)  

Summary: In 1882, after Apache Indians terrorize innocent townspeople, Captain Jeff Packard of the U.S. Army, whose mother and father were killed by Apaches, is assigned to kill Apache warrior Geronimo. Packard takes the name "Jeff Smith," and travels to the town of Larksberg to meet his contacts, Frank Cochran and Fletcher. At the local gunsmith's shop, Packard poses as The Waco Kid, fooling outlaw Walt Anderson and his henchman, Jennings. Later, when he sees Luke, another Anderson henchman, attack a young woman named Julie Scott, Packard shoots him in the hand. Meanwhile, Major Clem French, concerned about Indian attacks, orders a military escort for a stagecoach carrying payroll funds. When Red, one of Anderson's gang, learns that The Waco Kid is actually in the penitentiary, he and Frank, who is also working secretly for Anderson, become suspicious of Packard. At the saloon, meanwhile, Packard asks Frank and Fletcher to intercept a shipment of guns at Fort Broken Bow so they will not fall into Geronimo's hands. Later, Fletcher takes Packard to a shack outside of town, and there they discover Frank's slain corpse. Red then kills Fletcher and escapes. The cavalry chases Anderson's men to the ranch owned by Julie's father Jason, and the outlaws take Jason hostage, placing him inside one of the wagons containing the guns. The cavalry stops to check the wagons for the guns, but are called away by Apache smoke signals before Jason or the guns are discovered. After Packard writes his name on a grave marker, the gang suspects that he is working for Army intelligence. Later, Packard creates a diversion to give Julie a chance to escape, but she is apprehended by Luke. The cavalry catches up to Packard and the gang, confiscates the guns and arrests them. Inside the jail at cavalry headquarters, Packard maintains his cover. To confuse Geronimo and his men, the cavalry moves the guns to another wagon, which is to be sent from Fort Broken Bow to Fort Apache. Later, Packard recommends that the cavalry arrange for Anderson to escape so they can follow him to Geronimo. Once free, Anderson tells Geronimo what has happened, while Packard warns the major that the fort will be attacked unless they surrender the guns to Geronimo. While Anderson learns Packard's true identity, the major helps Julie and the major's wife Martha to board a stagecoach leaving the fort. After Packard tells him that the major wishes to negotiate at the fort, Geronimo demands three wagons full of guns in exchange for peace. When the major refuses, the Apaches attack. Later, Packard leaves the fort to warn the stagecoach not to continue. After Geronimo learns that the guns have been removed, he and his men kill the major. Geronimo then goes to Fort Apache to locate the guns, but when he realizes that they lack firing pins and are therefore useless, he kills Anderson. Packard reaches the stagecoach, but the Indians attack, and Martha is killed. After Packard grabs Geronimo's knife and stabs him in the back, he and Julie embrace. 

Production Company: Jack Schwarz Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Eagle-Lion Films, Inc. (Pathé Industries, Inc.)
Director: John Hoffman (Dir)
  Arthur Hammond (Asst dir)
  Mack Wright (Asst dir)
Producer: Jack Schwarz (Prod)
  Jack Rabin (Assoc prod)
Writer: Sam Neuman (Story and scr)
  Nat Tanchuck (Story and scr)
Photography: Clark Ramsey (Photog)
  Elmer Dyer (Photog)
Art Direction: Ernie Hixon (Art dir)
Film Editor: Norman Colbert (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Harry Reif (Set dec)
Costumes: Bob Lee Vanado (Ward)
Music: Darrell Calker (Mus dir)
  Darrell Calker (Mus score)
Sound: Harry Smith (Sd eng)
Special Effects: I. A. Block (Spec photog eff)
Make Up: Harry Thomas (Makeup)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Jack Schwarz Productions 29/7/1950 dd/mm/yyyy LP352 Yes

PCA NO: 14647

 
Genre: Western
 
Subjects (Major): Apache Indians
  Geronimo
  Firearms
  Undercover operations
  United States. Army. Cavalry
 
Subjects (Minor): Escapes
  Espionage
  Forts
  Graves
  Gunshot wounds
  Gunsmiths
  Impersonation and imposture
  Knife wounds
  Military intelligence
  Officers (Military)
  Payrolls
  Ranches
  Saloons
  Stagecoaches
  Smuggling

Note: Some events in this film were taken from the life of the much-feared Chiricahua Apache war chief Geronimo, who lived from 1829 until 1909. In 1876, following raids on Mexican settlements perpetrated by the Chiricahua, the Americans decided to move the tribe from Apache Pass to San Carlos. Only about half of the tribe made the move, however, while the rest, led by Geronimo, fled to Mexico. From there, they continued the raids, and in 1887, after a campaign against Geronimo's warriors led by Gen. George Crook, Geronimo was induced to surrender. He later embraced Christianity, joining the Dutch Reformed Church. Modern sources include Dennis Moore and Forrest Taylor in the cast. Before appearing in this picture, Chief Thunder Cloud played the title role in the 1939 Paramount film Geronimo (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.1567). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   19 Aug 1950.   
Daily Variety   10 Aug 50   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Jun 50   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jun 50   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Aug 50   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   9 Dec 50   p. 606.
Variety   29 Nov 50   p. 14.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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