When the government agency fails to deliver even the meager supplies due by treaty to the proud Cheyenne tribe in their barren desert reserve, the starving Indians have taken more abuse than it's worth and break it too by embarking on a 1,500 miles journey back to their ancestral hunting grounds. US Cavalry Capt. Thomas Archer is charged with their retrieval, but during the hunt grows to respect their noble courage, and decides to help them. Written by
When film critic Peter Bogdanovich visited the set to interview John Ford, he was introduced to Nancy Hsueh, who played Little Bird, whom Bogdanovich later cast in his first film, Targets (1968). While Bogdanovich was on the set, Sal Mineo recommended the book "The Last Picture Show" by Larry McMurtry to him. Seven years later Bogdanovich brought the book to the screen, as his second film, The Last Picture Show (1971). Ben Johnson, who appears in this film, also appeared in "The Last Picture Show", for which he won an Academy Award. See more »
In the 1870s American West, the Cheyenne Indians of Wyoming are sent to an Oklahoma reservation. When the lands proves barren, and most of the tribe dies, the 286 remaining Cheyenne leave for their once happy hunting grounds. Calvary Captain Richard Widmark (as Thomas Archer) leads a regime sent to stop the Cheyenne. Accompanying the tribe is tightly-outfitted Quaker schoolteacher Carroll Baker (as Deborah Wright), who also happens to be Mr. Widmark's love interest. Naturally, Widmark wants to avoid casualties, but hot-blooded Sal Mineo (as Red Shirt) isn't going quietly...
This was John Ford's last western, and his penultimate film. Reported to be in declining health, Mr. Ford's directorial skills are, happily, still sufficiently in evidence. Widmark (in a role that sounds like it was written for John Wayne) and a few of the cast do well. And, the cinematography, by William Clothier, was understandably nominated for an "Academy Award". BUT, "Cheyenne Autumn" moves at a laborious pace, and is ultimately done in by a bizarre interlude involving Jimmy Stewart (as Wyatt Earp) with Arthur Kennedy (as Doc Holliday); the film needed something, but this wasn't it.
***** Cheyenne Autumn (10/3/64) John Ford ~ Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, James Stewart, Sal Mineo
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