Tomahawk In 1866, a new gold discovery and an inconclusive conference force the U.S. Army to build a road and fort in territory ceded by previous treaty to the Sioux…to the disgust of frontier scout Jim Bridger, whose Cheyenne wife led him to see the conflict from both sides. The powder-keg situation needs only a spark to bring war, and violent bigots like Lieut. Rob Dancy are all too likely to provide this. Meanwhile, Bridger’s chance of preventing catastrophe is dimmed by equally wrenching personal conflicts. Unusually accurate historically.
A Magnificent Western
Tomahawk This great 1951 western just seems to get better with age. Having seen the film many times over the years but again today on TV, I really think this is one of the best westerns of the period and one that stands the test of time. Filmed in a documentary style ( Voice-over at beginning and end etc.)and influenced by the previous year’s hit ‘ Broken Arrow’, this film is actually an improvement as it does away with any romance that dominated the earlier film and concentrates on the story of Jim Bridger an Indian scout trying to keep peace between the army & the Sioux, who are trying to secure land rights. Based on the real life adventurer, the script while simplified remains intelligent with the accent on action but is unusually sympathetic to the Indians for 1951. Engrossing and beautifully photographed by Charles P Boyle (Old Yeller, Davy Crockett) in glorious Technicolor. Van Heflin gives a very convincing performance as Jim Bridger and it’s good to see native actors playing native Indians & speaking in their native tongue! There are distinct parallels here with Costner’s ‘Dances with Wolves’ ( actually filmed in the same area of Dakota)and interesting comparisons could be made with the award winning 1990 epic but whilst I admire the more recent film, ‘Tomahawk’ is the one I look forward to seeing again, all economically packaged in only 82 minutes!
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