Fort Apache (1948)

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    Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas

    Information from IMDb

    Plot Summary
    In John Ford's sombre exploration of THE FETTERMAN MASSACRE OF 1866 mythologising of American heroes,
    he slowly reveals the character of Owen Thursday,
    who sees his new posting to the desolate Fort Apache as a chance to claim the military honour which he believes is rightfully his.
    Arrogant, obsessed with military form and ultimately self-destructive,
    Thursday attempts to destroy the Indian warrior Cochise after luring him across the border from Mexico.
    Summary by Bernard Keane

    Full Cast
    John Wayne .... Capt. Kirby York
    Henry Fonda .... Lt. Col. Owen Thursday
    Shirley Temple .... Philadelphia Thursday
    Pedro Armendáriz .... Sgt. Beaufort (as Pedro Armendariz)
    Ward Bond .... Sgt. Maj. Michael O'Rourke
    George O'Brien .... Capt. Sam Collingwood
    Victor McLaglen .... Sgt. Festus Mulcahy
    Anna Lee .... Mrs. Emily Collingwood
    Irene Rich .... Mrs. Mary O'Rourke
    Dick Foran .... Sgt. Quincannon
    Guy Kibbee .... Capt. Dr. Wilkens
    Grant Withers .... Silas Meacham
    Jack Pennick .... Sgt. Daniel Schattuck
    Ray Hyke .... Lt. Gates (Adjutant)
    Movita .... Guadalupe (Col. Thursday's cook)
    Miguel Inclán .... Cochise (as Miguel Inclan)
    Mary Gordon .... Ma (barmaid)
    Philip Kieffer .... Cavalryman (as Philip Keiffer)
    Mae Marsh .... Mrs. Gates
    Hank Worden .... Southern recruit
    John Agar .... 2nd Lt. Michael Shannon O'Rourke
    Cliff Clark .... Stage driver (uncredited)
    Frank Ferguson .... Newspaperman (uncredited)
    Francis Ford .... Fen (stage guard) (uncredited)
    William Forrest .... Reporter (uncredited)
    Fred Graham .... Cavalryman (uncredited)
    Frank McGrath .... Cpl. Derice (bugler) (uncredited)
    Mickey Simpson .... NCO at dance (uncredited)
    Harry Tenbrook .... Tom O'Feeney (courier) (uncredited)
    Archie Twitchell .... Reporter (uncredited)

    Writing Credits
    James Warner Bellah story Massacre
    Frank S. Nugent

    Original Music
    Richard Hageman

    Archie Stout
    William H. Clothier (uncredited)

    Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
    Lowell J. Farrell .... assistant director (as Lowell Farrell)
    Cliff Lyons .... second unit director (uncredited)
    Jack Pennick .... assistant director (uncredited)

    Frank Baker .... stunts (uncredited)
    Fred Carson .... stunts (uncredited)
    John Epper .... stunts (uncredited)
    Richard Farnsworth .... stunts (uncredited)
    Fred Graham .... stunts (uncredited)
    John Hudkins .... stunts (uncredited)
    Ben Johnson .... stunts (uncredited)
    Walt La Rue .... stunts (uncredited)
    Cliff Lyons .... stunts (uncredited)
    Frank McGrath .... stunts (uncredited)
    Gil Perkins .... stunts (uncredited)
    Bob Rose .... stunts (uncredited)
    Danny Sands .... stunts (uncredited)
    Barlow Simpson .... stunts (uncredited)
    Jack Williams .... stunts (uncredited)
    Henry Wills .... stunts (uncredited)

    The Fort Apache fort, built for this production, stood for years. It was reused in dozens of productions, most notably the TV series "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" (1954). It was located at the Corriganville Movie Ranch in Simi Valley, California. Today it is possible to visit this location, as it is now administered as a City Park in Simi Valley.

    The plot for this movie was loosely based on Custer's Last Stand with Thursday as Custer and substituting Apaches for the Sioux. The cover-up by the survivors and the military of Thursday's blunder is in line with the cover up of Custer's mistakes and deliberate disobedience of his orders at Little Big Horn.

    Shirley Temple and John Agar were married at the time the movie was made, but went through a highly publicized divorce complete with allegations of spousal abuse, infidelity and alcoholism a couple of years later.

    Henry Fonda's last film before he was graylisted for his left-wing political activism.

    The "Apache" Indians were really members of the Navajo tribe.

    Cinematographer Archie Stout and John Ford used infrared black-and-white film stock, developed originally for medical and scientific researches and which doesn't sense the blue and records that color as black, in many exterior scenes shot in the Monument Valley to enhance the clouds and the rock formations. Ford learned that technique from Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa that he worked with for The Fugitive (1947).

    First entry to John Ford's famed "Cavalry Trilogy," followed by She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950), though it was not originally intended as a trilogy. This second project Ford's independent venture teaming with Merian C. Cooper was planed to give their company 'Argosy Productions' financial stability after the commercial failure of The Fugitive (1947).

    In 1953, RKO theatrically reissued this film on a double bill with another western, Blood on the Moon (1948) starring Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Preston, with the tag line "Two Rip-Roaring Action Hits!"

    John Ford did not get along at all with 19-year-old Shirley Temple, and frequently derided her acting and lack of education.

    Film debut of John Agar.

    Infrared film was used in outdoor scenes to enhance the fantastic look of the scenery and sky. However, the actors' skin tone looked far too pale on infrared, so they were compelled to wear very dark make-up to compensate.

    "Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on August 5, 1949 with John Wayne and Ward Bond reprising their film roles.

    SPOILER: Thursday's Charge, the painting referenced at the end which falsely depicts Lt. Col. Owen Thursday's last stand as him greatly outnumbered and fighting off the Indians to the best of his abilities, was actually one of the illustrations used to advertise for the film in it's initial release.


    * Continuity: When Capt. York talks to Lt. Col. Thursday at the first time, he tries to take off the glove from his left hand. The next shot shows him holding the glove off.

    * Continuity: When Lt. Michael O'Rourke and Philadelphia goes riding, they stop for while with a high and peaked boulder on their left-hand side. In the next shot, when they renew to ride, seen away from the other side, the boulder has changed to a large and low one.

    * Continuity: During the battle, when York rides toward Thursday, his saber hangs from the saddle. But when he dismounts the saber is held in his waist.

    * Errors in geography: When Capt Yorke reports to Col Thursday at the NCO's dance, he says that Cochise and his people have crossed the Rio Bravo back to American soil. This movie takes place in Arizona, there is no river separating Arizona from Mexico. The Rio Bravo (Rio Grande in US) separates only Texas and no other states from Mexico.

    * Continuity: When Col. Thursday leads a company "at a striking distance" from a repair patrol lead by Lt. O'Rourke. Sgt. Mulcahey is part of O'Rourke's patrol, but when the action shifts to show Col. Thursday's company in a saber charge against the Apache's there is a clear shot of Sgt. Mulcahey riding next to the flag bearer with his saber drawn. Note: this scene was duplicated from Col. Thursday's final charge against Cochise.

    * Anachronisms: Approximately one hour into the film, when Colonel Thursday and Captain York prepare to leave the fort to protect the wagon-team led by 2nd Lieutenant Michael O'Rourke from an anticipated Indian attack, the class-conscious Thursday criticizes York's soldiers for their sloppy uniforms, pointedly telling York himself that York's hat should be creased "like a fedora." The action of "Fort Apache" takes place during the lifetime of Cochise, the famous Apache chief who died in 1874. The word "fedora" does not enter the language until 1882, when the hat worn by Sarah Bernhardt as Princess Fedora in Victorien Sardou's hit play "Fedora" became the rage of the fashion world. Thursday's use of the word is an anachronism.

    * Continuity: During the Grand March at the dance, the actors perform the first round (couples) leading with the dance-favored right foot. When they double up to 4s and then 8s, they are leading with the military-favored left foot.

    * Continuity: During the dance in the Sergeants Mess, when the dancers are coming round in front of the camera in fours, one of the dancers curtsies, but none of the other women do this. They had already done so in a previous shot and obviously the woman must have been confused.

    * Anachronisms: When the new recruits are assembled for the second time (in uniform) the two closest to the camera appear to be wearing denim jeans or Levis. Levis were not available to the U.S. Cavalry at the time of the film's period in history.

    * Anachronisms: Throughout the movie a 35-star U.S. flag is carried (5 rows of 7 stars), which was actually used July 4, 1863-July 3, 1865.

    * Factual errors: The U.S. Cavalry did not normally carry sabers into the field at the time of the movie.

    * Errors in geography: The canyon that Captain York and Sergeant Beaufort ride into to meet with Cochise is supposed to be in Mexico. It is the same canyon that Col. Thursday and his command ride to defeat in the United States.

    * Continuity: When Collingwood is replaced by Lt Gates as adjutant, Gates begins to take off his saber. Film cuts to Henry Fonda and back to Gates already seated at the desk.

    * Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Cpt. Yorke with Sgt. Beaufort first sets out to see Cochise he simply heads off on his horse in to the desert, taking no water or supplies (there are no packs on the two horses). This must be at least a days journey as the whole of the US Cavalry has failed to find Cochise.

    * Errors in geography: When Captain York and Beaufort are riding to meet Cochise they pass a spot on the Colorado River which is on the northern border with Utah not the southern border of Arizona with Mexico.

    * Continuity: After Capt. York rides out to rescue Thursday, Thursday asks for and is given York's saber. When we next see York on the ridge with the supplies watching the attack his saber is in his scabbard.

    * Anachronisms: (At 1:00:10) The camera pans to the left and to the lower left hand corner coming out from behind the Apache, in the distance (about 1/4 mile), you can see a vehicle racing down the road.

    * Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Lt. O'Rouke and Philadelphia return to the Fort after finding the burnt wagon. Capt Collingwood turns back to the command building and calls out for "Lt Thursday". The commanding officer is Lt. Col Thursday (the rank of Lt. Col is addressed as Colonel). Though Lt. Col Thursday's character was also a brevet Maj General during the Civil War allowing the title General to be occasionally used. For Collingwood to address Thursday as Lieutenant, especially by a man who dislikes Thursday, would be very insubordinate.

    Memorable Quotes

    Filming Locations
    Arches National Park, Moab, Utah, USA
    California, USA
    Corriganville, Ray Corrigan Ranch, Simi Valley, California, USA
    Dead Horse Point State Park - State Highway 313, Moab, Utah, USA
    Goosenecks State Park - State Highway 316, Mexican Hat, Utah, USA
    Goulding's Lodge, Monument Valley, Utah, USA
    Goulding's Trading Post, Monument Valley, Utah, USA
    Kanab, Utah, USA
    Mexican Hat, Utah, USA
    Moab, Utah, USA
    Monument Valley, Utah, USA
    Ray Corrigan Ranch, Simi Valley, California, USA
    Selznick International Studios - 9336 Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA
    Shafer Outlook, Goosenecks State Park - State Highway 316, Mexican Hat, Utah, USA
    Simi Valley, California, USA
    Utah, USA



    This is a truly fascinating and well put together video

    Watch the Trailer:-

    Fort Apache

    Previous discussion-

    Fort Apache

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 12 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Fort Apache is a 1948 Western film directed by John Ford and starring Dukeand Henry Fonda.
    The film was the first of the director's "cavalry trilogy" and was followed by She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950),
    both also starring Duke. The story, which screenwriter James Warner Bellah based loosely
    on George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, as well as the Fetterman Massacre of 1866,
    was one of the first to present an authentic and sympathetic view of the Native Americans involved in the battle
    (Apache in the film, Sioux in the real battles).

    The film was awarded the Best Director and Best Cinematography awards
    by the Locarno International Film Festival of Locarno, Switzerland.

    It's very easy to review the Cavalry trilogy, because they're all great.
    This being the first, set the standard, and it is a classic example of the genre.
    Now regarded highly among fans all over.
    John Ford set is stall out, with these pictures, and each one
    is a masterpiece.

    Duke was just brilliant as a cavalry officer, and if anyone looked the part, he did.
    He was authoritative, strong, and what a fella you could depend on!
    Ford lifted Duke's basic personality, into epic proportions, making
    Kirby York- a knowledgeable frontiersman, forceful, yet human.

    The role was, was one of Duke's most memorable screen portrayals.

    Scriptwriter, Frank Nugent, declared,


    Having Wayne, put his arm on your shoulder, is like having somebody dump a telephone pole on you.

    With support from Henry Fonda, Ward Bond, Pedro, and the others
    in Fords stock company, the ingredients were there for a great film.
    Victor McLaglen is magic, and any Duke film featuring him,
    was a sure fire fact every film he was in, was a winner!!!
    Shirley Temple, well, she was OK, but a little weak.

    However Ford, had the panache, to create, cavalrymen and women, with strength and dignity,
    and gift of making their native American counterparts,honorable and justified in their grievances.
    Great strory, a re-make of Custer, but who cares,
    overall brilliant.
    The film was a commercial and critical success.

    User Review


    A great American film
    20 April 2003 | by NewEnglandPat (Virginia)

    Director John Ford's first entry in his cavalry trilogy is this excellent film about life on a military outpost far from the glamorous theaters of the Indian Wars on the northern plains. The film touches on character development of the officers and enlisted men on the post, family relationships and the class distinctions among the military social order. Henry Fonda is great as a bitter, unhappy colonel who feels unappreciated by the military hierarchy and is displeased by his assignment to the isolated desert areas. John Wayne gives the film just the right balance as a captain who looks out for his men and knows Indians. Ford has his regular cast on board for the film, and John Agar and Shirley Temple handle the romantic clinches. The pace is slowed somewhat by comedy bits that add nothing to the film's substance. The black and white camera work is stunning and the music is reflective and melancholy.

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 4 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Keith,

    You could not keep me out of talking about "Fort Apache" and the "Cavalry Trilogy" with a Big Stick!!! :D

    It is hard to believe that it has been almost 60 years ago that this Film was done in the most part in Monument Valley. Most of you young people were not even here at that time, but I was and watched most of the filming. If you look very closely when the the Stunt Man is taking the Fall off of the Horse that almost Killed Him that young Kid right behind him is Yours Truly in my Staring Roll in the Film for about 5 Seconds! :fear2:

    You did a great Job on your Review of "Fort Apache" and as I looked at the list of Players in the Film, does anyone know how many of them are still alive? :(

    Here is a little Picture Story of "Fort Apache" that I put up a few months ago and maybe some of you might want to have another Look See. You can go to the Site Below and Just Keep Clicking NEXT. :rolleyes:


    Chilibill :cowboy:

  • Hi Bill

    Doing a very rough check and concentrating on the stuntmen as most of the stars we know have passed on. I would say Movita is still with us and you and thats about it.

    I'm not sure about Gill Perkins as he is a little bit obscure.

    I'm sure someone will let us know if there are any more but as you say it was almost 60 years ago, and some of Fords 'stock company had been with him since the late 30s and early 40s.



    Walk Tall - Talk Low

  • Maybe Shirley Temples acting was a little weak but, her looks were not. I think she was about 18 when this was made and she had turned into quite a good looking young woman. I noticed in the party scenes when the whole crowd does that march around the hall, she has a smile on her face like she was really having fun and enjoying it all. Everybody else had a serious expression but, not her.

  • Quote

    Originally posted by William T Brooks@Jan 31 2006, 05:21 AM
    . . . as I looked at the list of Players in the Film, does anyone know how many of them are still alive?


    Funny you should ask that, Bill. Just yesterday I was reading a news article on the web about Shirley Temple Black -

    Chester :newyear:

    P.S. The picture is Shirley Temple Black about 6 or 7 years ago.

  • It has been almost 60 years ago that the Film "Fort Apache" was made in Monument Valley that is in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. It was the First of what most people call the "Ford, Wayne Horse Soldier Trilogy."

    In the 1940s there were Hundreds of Western films being done in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado that is called "The Four Corners." Some of us Young Kids would go North in the Summer and make what we thought was Big Money for the times, as Extras in the films.

    I had put this story up on "Duke Stories" a year or so ago, and maybe some of you might want to read it again. :rolleyes:


    Chilibill :cowboy:

  • Thanks, Chilibill, for putting that link in the correct forum! :D

    This movie isn't as readily available as many, especially in DVD format. Deep Discount DVD doesn't seem to have it at all, and Amazon only has it available through independent sellers, so free shipping is not an option.

    Hopefully, it will be released soon.

    Chester :newyear:

  • I went to the video store to see if they carried Fort Apache. They had it but it was in color. I'm usually not to picky, but I didn't get it. Has anyone seen this in color?
    I would think that would ruin it.

  • Quote

    Originally posted by Harry00@May 17 2006, 10:40 AM
    I went to the video store to see if they carried Fort Apache. They had it but it was in color. I'm usually not to picky, but I didn't get it. Has anyone seen this in color?
    I would think that would ruin it.


    To my knowledge, "Fort Apache" was filmed in black & white. What you may have found was a colorized version. I would almost always take the director's orginal intent in the way a movie was filmed - a colorized version of a black & white film would be distracting to me.
    Cheers - Jay :D

    Cheers - Jay:beer:
    "Not hardly!!!"

  • It was done in Black and White to keep the cost down so they could have spend more on "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon." And then later "Rio Grande" in Black and White also so they would have more Money for "The Quiet Man." :angry:

    It is too bad that they did not Shoot it in Color, Moab, Utah and Monument Valley are too Beautiful to be done in Black and White! :artist:

    Chilibill :cowboy:

  • I am not much of a "Siskel and Ebert" purist...I enjoy the colorized versions. I have Fort Apache colorized, along with the colorized Tall in the Saddle, and Fighting Seabees. Tall in the Saddle was done the best, although Fort Apache is OK. I wouldn't be afraid of it. Its amazing what they were able to do through technology to colorize these.


    "...all of this and General Price that baby sister makes it back to Yell county" --Rooster Cogburn, True Grit.

  • I have not seen it in color I think it would be a cool new perspective .Anyway any John Wayne is better than no John Wayne. (I say)


  • Hello again. I didn't mean to sound like a purist snob or anything, it's just that I thought that making B&W films in color would be kind of strange. I don't know much about it. How do they know what color things are supposed to be? And why do they do it? I mean it seems to me to do that would be kind of expensive to reproduce something in color. I have no idea.

  • I was just over on Amazon to recheck on when the John Ford-John Wayne Collection was coming out. I read about the Fort apache DVD and they will a feature on there called Monument Valley:John Ford Country and that the film itself will be digitally remastered from the original nitrate film elements. Sounds like it's going to look fabulous on screen.

  • Quote

    Originally posted by WaynamoJim@May 27 2006, 09:21 PM
    I was just over on Amazon to recheck on when the John Ford-John Wayne Collection was coming out. I read about the Fort apache DVD and they will a feature on there called Monument Valley:John Ford Country and that the film itself will be digitally remastered from the original nitrate film elements. Sounds like it's going to look fabulous on screen.


    I bet it will be. I'm going to order my copy along with Decision Before Dawn and Along Came Jones, on June 6th. :D

    Es Ist Verboten Mit Gefangenen In Einzelhaft Zu Sprechen..

  • I am having trouble with all these DVD's that keep coming out, well not really. Its just so hard to keep up with all this stuff!!! I wish I could pace myself!!

    I look forward to Fort Apache on DVD as the only copy I have is a DVD from Singapore I think. Its watchable but that's about it.

    Life is hard, its even harder when your stupid!!
    -John Wayne