Sunday, Apr 2024
Director: John Ford
Screenwriters: Frank Nugent inspired by James Bellah's story "Massacre"
Length: 127 mins. B&W
Released: 1948

fort apache posterThis is the first of Ford's cavalry trilogy and perhaps the best, certainly superior to Rio Grande. Henry Fonda is the commanding officer assigned to the cavalry outpost. He views the assignment as a demotion and this shows in his touchy attitude and rather pathetic search for glory. Wayne is the more realistic soldier with hard-earned and invaluable knowledge of Indian ways. Fonda consistently and foolishly ignores his advice with disasterous results.Fort Apache is another fine Ford Western, featuring not one, but 2 of his great leading men, Wayne and Fonda. Fonda's vulnerable, reckless role is an unusual one for him, and he capably handles the challenge. Wayne here has to take the orders, but he is typically good. The supporting cast of Ford regulars is excellent as always, with Ward Bond and especially McClagen turning in lively performances which give us entertaining insight into cavalry outpost life. As with the other cavalry entries, there is much domestic consideration to the story, with women playing significant roles at the post. The main sub-plot involves a love story featuring an older Shirley Temple, who is quite pretty but too often over-pouty. This is as much of an army movie as a western, another Indian War story. The view of military life and structure is well done. As commendable as anything in the film is its treatment of Indians and the Indian situation, which is quite fair and sensitive for the 1940s. But there is plenty of exciting action, well-filmed as always by Ford. A fine film, and be sure to notice the similarity with Liberty Valance and the issue of western legends at the end. We consider Fort Apache yet another CLASSIC from Ford and company.



  • John Wayne ... Captain Kirby York
  • Henry Fonda .... Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday
  • Shirley Temple ....Philadelphia Thursday
  • Pedro Armendáriz ... Sergeant Beaufort
  • Ward Bond ... Sergeant-Major Michael O'Rourke
  • George O'Brien .... Captain Sam Collingwood
  • Victor McLaglen .... Sergeant Festus Mulcahy
  • Anna Lee.... Mrs. Emily Collingwood
  • Irene Rich .... Mrs. Mary O'Rourke
  • Dick Foran .... Sergeant Quincannon
  • Guy Kibbee .... Captain Dr. Wilkens, Regimental Surgeon
  • Grant Withers .... Silas Meacham, Indian Reservation Trading Post Agent
  • Jack Pennick .... Sergeant Daniel Schattuck
  • Ray Hyke .... Lt. Gates, Adjutant
  • Movita .... Guadalupe, Col. Thursday's Cook
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