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Film Review: Escape From Fort Bravo,
John Sturges, 1953




Escape From Fort Bravo


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Escape From Fort Bravo, John Sturges, 1953

Escape From Fort Bravo is a good film without hitting the spot quite as well as Sturges's later better known Westerns. It has some good action sequences interspersed with a relatively standard portrayal of fort life on the frontier. This, and much of the cinematography bears similarity to John Ford's work - the silhouetted figures journeying across the ridge, the desert backdrop.

William Holden (Captain Roper) is the stickler who exhibits a commitment and toughness which is out of sync with the other occupants of the eponymous Fort. It houses confederate prisoners but the outpost is so remote that the commander sees no need to incarcerate them. Eleanor Parker (Carla Forester) provides the romantic interest. She is a southern Belle, a femme fatale who wishes to undermine the purpose of the garrison by securing the release of the southern prisoners of war.

As in many of Ford's Westerns, the use of the Indians - in this case Mescalero Apache - as the hidden threat , the faceless and fearsome unknown "Other". They are referred to as "deadly Mescalaro Indians" who occupy the area around the fort and offer a constant menace and deterrent against desertion. The oft used myth that "they won't attack at night" receives yet another airing. In common with other films set against the background of the Civil War like two Flags West and Major Dundee the Indians, or rather fighting them, is seen as a unifying force at a time of division. Although well acted and filmed, Sturges's first Western is not in the same class as Major Dundee, but is worth watching nevertheless.




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Chris Smallbone November 2012
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