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Film Review: Dakota Incident


" Go back to your village and tell them White man gave back Indian his life."
John Banner (Dale Robertson)



Dakota Incident
Dakota Incident, Lewis R Foster,1956



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Dakota Incident, Lewis R Foster,1956

This film has much to commend it, not least Linda Darnell and some interesting characters and the camera work is superb. There is a superficial similarity to stagecoach, but while the plot unfolds during the stagecoach journey it is not really an odyssey type of western, the journey itself is just a means of changing the location from town to desert It is a small part of the Dakota Incident during which the climax of the film unfolds. Most of the film is plausible and its conclusions laudable but on the way we have to swallow some details and shifts of position which go way beyond verging on the ridiculous. As wonderful as Linda Darnell is, the idea of her travelling in her red saloon dress is laughable and the maintenance of its pristine condition en route absurd. Ward Bond's portrayal of the eastern senator is ludicrous, its one thing to be nave and patronising, but so out of sync is Bond's attitudes with his character that he inadvertently hams it up.

Some of the dialogue grates as it is so contrived:

"I happen to be a student of anthropology" Senator Blakely (Bond) opines.
"So was Custer, it didn't help him much" Amy Clarke (Darnell)

"I don't want them to kill the only friend I've got - me" John Banner (Dale Robertson).

Shifts in attitude at the very end of the film are an inconsistent jolt to the senses and patronising to the native Americans depicted.

Still, it is watchable, even though it is frustrating because much of the film is better than this, it is dragged down by having too many inconsistencies and flaws. Kim Newman (Wild West Movies, 1990) recognizes the ending as reminiscent of Escape from Fort Bravo, the denouement of which he rightly says, is far more effective.




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urlhttp://www.nativeamerican.co.uk
Chris Smallbone March 2010

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