10 user 4 critic

Smoke Signal (1955)

Passed | | Action, Drama, Western | March 1955 (USA)
A suspected cavalry deserter proves to be resourceful in helping the surviving members of a fort, flee Indians along a dangerous river.


Jerry Hopper


George F. Slavin (story and screenplay), George W. George (story and screenplay)


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Complete credited cast:
Dana Andrews ... Brett Halliday
Piper Laurie ... Laura Evans
Rex Reason ... Lt. Wayne Ford
William Talman ... Capt. Harper
Milburn Stone ... Sgt. Miles
Douglas Spencer ... Garode
Gordon Jones ... Cpl. Rogers
William Schallert ... Pvt. Livingston
Robert J. Wilke ... 1st Sgt. Daly (as Robert Wilke)
William Phipps ... Pvt. Porter (as Bill Phipps)
Pat Hogan ... Delche
Peter Coe ... Ute Prisoner


Capt. Harper's cavalry patrol returns to the fort to find it besieged by Ute Indians. The apparent cause is the recapture of Army traitor Brett Halliday, who deserted to the Utes in a previous war; but Brett has a different story. With capture imminent, the only chance for the surviving men (and one woman) is to boat down a wild, uncharted river, where Harper and Halliday must pull together, like it or not. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

river | fort | escape | prisoner | deserter | See All (37) »


Through a Gauntlet of Indian Terror they fled...every moment bringing her nearer safety and leading the man she loved nearer his destruction! (original print ad) See more »


Action | Drama | Western


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

March 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rauchsignale See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to Piper Laurie in her memoirs Learning To Live Out Loud, Dana Andrews was almost always drunk between the shooting sequences, but remained very professional on the set. See more »


When the soldier lost the water barrel over the side of the cliff, he was yanking on the wooden spigot several times as though it were a stuck cork that you have to yank out of the barrel. But it was not a cork, it was a wooden spigot that you turn to open. This was simply to add tension to that part of the movie, which had no action. See more »

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User Reviews

One of the Best of All Westerns; Stirring Well-Acted Outdoor Drama
30 June 2005 | by silverscreen888See all my reviews

This fine production is in every way one of the best westerns, and the best adventures ever made by my standards. It is also a "sense-of-life" film, during whose course the viewer along with the characters discovers the truth about the central character for himself. The plot situation here is a tense one. This script has in fact one of the most interesting story lines of any western of which I have knowledge. A man named Halliday is being called a renegade, even accused of having started an Indian war. Yet Brett Halliday is a man who deserted to join the Ute Indians--who have now joined the Sioux---on a previous occasion for what he says was a different reason entirely. His story was he wanted keep the peace then and still does, but Evans, the man in charge at the local fort, wanted the war. The man who has captured him, Harper, leads his patrol back to the fort. Laura Evans, the Colonel's daughter, is also present. Her father is dead; and an overwhelming attack on the fort is now imminent. With no other choice, the few survivors have to make their way down the walls of the canyon beside which the fort is perched and try to escape via the river that flows there. The body of the film's many action scenes involve that attempted escape and Halliday's part played during it, which finally convinces a by-the-book Harper to let him go to the Indians and try to avert needless bloodshed. By this time, he has told the daughter the truth about her father--that he brought on the two wars by the way he had maltreated the tribes. And she has fallen in love with him and will wait for his return. Veteran Jerry Hopper directed the colorful scenes contained herein from a script by George W. George and George Slavin. In the good cast beside Dana Andrews, very good as Halliday, young star Piper Laurie as Miss Evans, William Talman in a his best role ever in film as Harper, Milburn Stone just before he achieved fame as "Doc" on "Gunsmoke's" long-running TV series, Rex Reason as Laura Evans' jealous suitor, Gordon Jones, Robert J.Wilkie, Peter Coe, Douglas Spencer and William Schallert. There are many good technical and creative contributions that make this a beautiful and memorable outdoor drama. Bill Thomas did the costumes and other fine professionals were involved; but the plot line concerning how men face adversity is so strong that a lesser cast, producers and artists could still have made this a creditable effort. That they did so much better than they might have done is a tribute to all concerned.

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