The Battle at Apache Pass is directed by George Sherman and written by Gerald Drayson Adams. It stars Jeff Chandler, John Lund, Bruce Cowling, John Hudson, Susan Cabot, Jay Silverheels, Gregg Palmer and Jack Elam. Music is by Hans J. Salter and cinematography Charles P. Boyle. A Technicolor production, the location’s for the shoot were at Moab, Utah, with Arches National Park, Colorado River, Courthouse Wash, Ida Gulch and Professor Valley forming the backdrops to the story.
The film is a fictionalised account of The Bascom Affair of 1861 and the Battle of Apache Pass that occurred in 1862, the latter of which saw the Indians witness for the first time in the region an artillery attack by means of mountain howitzers. It deals in the events that led up to the battle and focuses on the in fighting between Chiricahua warriors Cochise and Geronimo.
Although both Chandler and Silverheels reprise their character roles from Broken Arrow 1950, The Battle at Apache Pass takes place prior to the events depicted in the 1950 movie. As solid as they come story wise, and with beautiful Technicolor scenery, Sherman’s film is only really let down by not having acting gravitas in the American roles. Messrs Lund, Cowling and Hudson are OK, but the material needed more assured performers to play off of the excellent Chandler. On the feminine side Cabot does the best with what little she is given to do, while Beverly Tyler, playing a pretty important character narratively speaking, is just a pretty tug-of-war prop device. However, it’s easy to look away from the lack of dramatic worth in the acting because Sherman’s action set ups are very good, with the actual battle of the title brilliantly constructed in a rock formed valley, featuring reams of extras, lots of war-fare and the thunder of howitzers filling the ears. While Boyle’s (Horizon’s West/Tomahawk) photography is sumptuous and a credit to the cinematographer’s craft. Salter’s score, tho, is only standard fare, with familiar Redskin strains for the Indians and drum beat military thrusts for the Cavalry sequences.
A fine film to look at, with a more than interesting story driving it forward,