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The Battle at Apache Pass
Director: George Sherman (Dir)
Release Date:   Apr 1952
Premiere Information:   World premiere in Chicago, IL: late Mar 1952; Los Angeles opening: 5 Apr 1952
Production Date:   late Jun--late Jul 1951
Duration (in mins):   84-85
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   John Lund (Major Jim Colton)  
    Jeff Chandler (Cochise)  
    Susan Cabot (Nona)  
    Bruce Cowling (Neil Baylor)  
    Beverly Tyler (Mary Kearny)  
    Richard Egan (Sgt. Reuben Bernard)  
    Jay Silverheels (Geronimo)  
    John Hudson (Lt. George Bascom)  
    Jack Elam (Mescal Jack)  
    Regis Toomey (Dr. Carter)  
    Tommy Cook (Little Elk)  
    Hugh O'Brian (Lt. Robert Harley)  
    James Best (Corp. Hassett)  
    Richard Garland (Culver)  
    Palmer Lee (Joe Bent)  
    William Reynolds (Lem Bent)  
    Paul Smith (Trumpeter Ross)  
    Jack Ingram (Johnny Ward)  
    John Baer (Pvt. Bolin)  

Summary: In New Mexico Territory, Apache chief Cochise has forged a firm and peaceful friendship with Major Jim Colton, commander of Fort Buchanan. One day, Cochise and his pregnant wife Nona visit the fort, and Colton explains to Cochise that many soldiers are leaving the fort to fight in the Civil War in the East. Colton promises to stay in the Southwest near his Apache friends. Soon after, Neil Baylor, a government Indian agent, arrives with an untrustworthy scout named Mescal Jack and announces that reinforcements will be brought in to deal with the Indian problem. Much to Colton's anger, Baylor expresses his intent to move the Apaches to the San Carlos reservation away from the Butterfield Overland route, a stagecoach pass, even though peace treaties granting them land rights have already been signed. A short time later, a Butterfield Overland stagecoach bound for Tucson is attacked by Geronimo, chief of the Mogollon Apaches, and all the women and children are mutilated. Colton and Baylor go to see Cochise, and Baylor declares that if the killers are not found, the Chiricahua, Cochise's Apache tribe, will be sent to San Carlos. Cochise responds that his tribe will not leave their lands, but that at the Indian's council he will vote to send the bad Apaches away from the area. At the council, Geronimo tries to persuade the Chiricahua to fight the whites, but the council chiefs vote to banish him. When Cochise tells Geronimo and his men that they must leave behind Mary Kearney, a young schoolteacher whom the renegades kidnapped at the time of the Butterfield stage massacre, another brave, Niga, challenges him to fight for her. Cochise wins the battle, and Nona thinks that he is in love with the white girl. Cochise assures Nona that he only has eyes for her, and then brings Mary to Fort Buchanan, telling Colton that she would make a good wife. Meanwhile, Baylor and Mescal meet with Geronimo, and offer to sell him guns and ammunition in exchange for raiding a ranch and making it look as if Cochise were responsible. Geronimo agrees, kills the rancher's wife, kidnaps his son, and leaves behind the emblem of Cochise's tribe, a thunderbird pendant. While Colton is away investigating the attack, Baylor approaches Lt. George Bascom and says he will be promoted if he can get the kidnapped boy back from Cochise. At the meeting between Cochise and Bascom, Cochise tells Bascom that Geronimo perpetrated the attack, but Bascom accuses him of lying, and as he is about to arrest him, Cochise escapes. Bascom takes Nona and three braves hostage. Sgt. Reuben Bernard, Colton's ally, demands that he release Nona, but Bascom insists that the three hostages will not be released until the boy and the guilty Indians are turned over. Cochise takes a military man hostage, and when Bascom calls him a liar, he kills him. In retaliation, Bascom hangs the three braves, one of whom is Little Elk, Cochise's brother. Cochise and the Chiricahuas go into mourning and then vow to avenge the deaths of their braves by joining forces with Geronimo and declaring war on the whites. Meanwhile, Colton returns and learns from Bernard that Baylor masterminded the conflict between Cochise and Bascom. He arrests Bascom just as the Indians attack. Mescal goes to Cochise and says that troops are arriving to drive the villagers from their lands. Cochise accuses him of lying and has him shot. Eventually, Colton decides to abandon Fort Buchanan, and the entire population of the fort, including Mary, moves to Fort Sheridan. As the wagon train travels through Apache Pass, the Indian warriors, including Cochise, watch from the rocks above and then shoot. Baylor is shot, and then runs to the Indians claiming to be their friend, but Geronimo kills him. Colton and Bernard decide that they must use cannons in order to win the battle, and when they begin to shell the area, the warriors scatter. Cochise finds Nona, who has been injured, and then approaches the wagon train in order to get medical attention from Dr. Carter. Geronimo tells the remaining braves that Cochise is no longer their leader as he only thinks of his squaw, and then he attacks. Cochise rides with a white flag to Geronimo, who challenges Cochise to a fight to the death. Cochise wins but decides not to kill Geronimo, declaring instead that he is an outcast and no longer an Apache warrior. Later, Nona gives birth to a boy, and then gives Mary, who has cared for her, a bracelet that will protect her from Apaches. Mary and Nona say goodbye, and Cochise and Colton, who is in love with Mary, agree to speak again about peace sometime soon. 

Production Company: Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.  
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Co., Inc.  
Director: George Sherman (Dir)
  William Holland (Asst dir)
Producer: Leonard Goldstein (Prod)
  Ross Hunter (Assoc prod)
Writer: Gerald Drayson Adams (Story and scr)
Photography: Charles Boyle (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Bernard Herzbrun (Art dir)
  Richard H. Riedel (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ted J. Kent (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Russell A. Gausman (Set dec)
  Oliver Emert (Set dec)
Costumes: Rosemary Odell (Cost)
Music: Hans J. Salter (Mus)
Sound: Leslie I. Carey (Sd)
  Corson Jowett (Sd)
Make Up: Joan St. Oegger (Hairstylist)
  Bud Westmore (Makeup)
Production Misc: Gilbert Kurland (Unit prod mgr)
Color Personnel: William Fritzsche (Technicolor col consultant)
Country: United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Co. 18/2/1952 dd/mm/yyyy LP1504

PCA NO: 15477
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording
  col: Technicolor

Genre: Western
Subjects (Major): Apache Indians
  Indian agents
  New Mexico
  United States--History--Indian campaigns
Subjects (Minor): Ambushes
  Indians of North America--Reservations
  Officers (Military)
  Scouts (Frontier)
  United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865

Note: The opening credits state that the film's battle scenes were photographed at Arches National Monument Park and include a written acknowledgment commending the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior "whose splendid cooperation made these scenes possible." The film's remaining exteriors were shot in Professor Valley, near Moab, Utah. According to the LAEx review, Professor Valley was the actual site of Apache Pass.
       The events depicted in the film are based on a true incident that occurred in 1861 when a rancher wrongfully accused Cochise of kidnapping his children and stealing his cattle. At a meeting between Cochise and Lt. George Bascom from Fort Buchanan, Bascom tried to arrest Cochise, who escaped, and each side took and murdered hostages. Most of the forts in Chiricahua country were indeed abandoned due to the need for troops to fight the Civil War. When reinforcements were sent in to protect the routes to California, a battle took place in Apache Pass between Cochise and troops led by Colonel James Carleton. Carleton claimed victory over the attackers by using howitzers and repeater rifles. The incident is credited with instigating twenty-five years of Apache unrest. Apparently Geronimo was not actually involved in this battle, and the character "Major Colton" is fictional. Contemporary reviews praised the film for its sympathetic, honest and authentic depiction of Indians. The Var review applauded, in particular, Cochise's kindly treatment of his pregnant wife and the scenes of authentic Indian wrestling. Jeff Chandler also played Cochise in Twentieth Century-Fox's 1950 film, Broken Arrow (see entry below). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   5 Apr 1952.   
Daily Variety   2 Apr 52   p. 3.
The Exhibitor   9 Apr 52   p. 3272.
Film Daily   9 Apr 52   p. 6.
Harrison's Reports   5 Apr 52   p. 54.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jun 51   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Jul 51   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Apr 52   p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner   7 Apr 1952.   
Motion Picture Daily   Apr 2 1952.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   5 Apr 52   p. 1306.
New York Times   10 May 52   p. 16.
Variety   2 Apr 52   p. 6.

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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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