Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Look Back At 'Fort Apache,' John Ford's Classic Film Of The U.S. Cavalry

Fort Apache, director John Ford's classic U.S. Cavalry tale, is one of my favorite Ford films and one of my favorite films.

John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Ward Bond, Pedro Armendariz and many other actors are all at the top of their game in this great film. I served in the U.S. Navy, not the U.S. Cavalry, but the Ford characters are all familiar to me.

I've seen Fort Apache a dozen times and I want to see it again after reading Lee Pfeiffer's review of the Blu-Ray DVD release of the film.

Fort Apache, however, is a far more sinister look at the West, one that was decades ahead of its time in terms of presenting the case of the Native Americans in a sympathetic fashion. It's ironic that people like Marlon Brando, who extolled the cause of Native American rights, would cite Ford's films as having been detrimental to the Indian cause. In fact, Ford was so highly regarded by the Navajo that he was made an honorary member of the tribe, primarily because of his consistent efforts to improve their lives.

...The story clearly takes its origins from the legend of General Custer, with Henry Fonda portraying Lt. Colonel Owen Thursday, a strutting martinet who is assigned as commanding officer of Fort Apache, a remote U.S. cavalry outpost deep inside territory that has been characterized by raids led by the legendary Apache chief Cochise. It isn't long before Thursday locks horns with his second in command, Capt. Kirby York (John Wayne). York tries to convince Thursday that his heavy-handed philosophies might be appropriate for West Point, but are hopelessly out of touch with commanding an outpost in this region. Thursday will have none of it. He runs a tight ship, tolerates no dissent from his edicts and alienates any hope of striking a truce with the Apaches by intentionally breaking his word and personally insulting Cochise.

...There are also all those wonderful Ford "stock company" actors including Ward Bond, Guy Kibbee, Victor McLaglen, Jack Pennick, Anna Lee, Pedro Armendariz, as well as George O'Brien.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

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