Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Indian Fighter

The beginning of The Indian Fighter, a 1956 movie starring Kirk Douglas as Johnny Hawks, strongly reminded me of White Feather and Broken Arrow, two other films from the same decade.  And while this movie did often seem to be derivative, Douglas’ performance was good enough to keep me entertained throughout its 88 minutes. 

The generic plot of The Indian Fighter is a mash-up of: white man is friends with Indians but works for the Army, white scout leads pioneer settlers through tense Indian country, white man falls for Indian girl and problems ensue, unscrupulous white men search for gold, white girl falls for white scout but he is not interested, Indians attack Army fort, white man comes under suspicion by soldiers and settlers. 

Alan Hale (Andrew Greer, the lawyer in The Girl in Boxcar #3) co-stars as a suitor of the white girl; he’s the “best apple-grower in all of Michigan.”  The white girl has a son named—surprise!—Tommy, just like the boys in Exit from Wickenburg and The Men Who Corrupted Hadleyburg.  And Hawks shoots a rattler, in a scene reminiscent of Smiler with a Gun.

There were some interesting scenes in the movie that touched on the history of the West.  Over the course of The Indian Fighter, the state of relations between the whites and the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Shoshone were mentioned; some were friendly to the people invading their territory and some were not.  A subplot involved an Army photographer, a protégé of Mathew Brady, who believed that his photos would show the beauty of the land to people back East and persuade them to journey West in a venture to civilize the region.

The background music was generally overbearing and obvious but at approximately the mid-point of The Indian Fighter, a song was played by a character in the movie and a google search revealed it to be a song from the Civil War called Two Brothers.