The Only Good Indian (2009) Poster

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If you are looking for a drama with heart and some action, check here.
MikeTest29 June 2010
I read James Boyd's review and almost didn't watch this movie. I am glad I decided to watch the movie. James missed a lot of the major points in this movie, betrayal, love, hate, greed, deception. All these things are what make a good Drama. I understand that most people now days don't want to hear about the way the American Indians faced genocide, humiliation and reprogramming. It is a part of the history of this nation, and movies like this, addressing the past aren't just about revenge. People can be greedy and cruel, but it takes a real man to own up to his past and do what is right. I believe this movie shows that courage and honor.
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Is The Only Good Indian a Dead One?
movieed127 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
If you know your history, this story does a great job encompassing the issues of the late 19th- early 20th century. Dramatizing the changes of the dying "Wild" frontier to industrialization. The late 19th century was a crazy time for the USA. Land expansion, Civil War, Spanish American War and Native American Resettlement. Cowboys were NOT really Cowboys but more often outliers and Bounty Hunters, flip flopping between enforcing government law vs. the laws of the wild west. The Wild west as it was, was winding down. Many people thought they were doing right, the Missionaries who were coming in in droves to "civilize" thought they were doing right, the Bounty Hunters (Sam and McCoy) thought they were doing right. People like McCoy really were Lost because they realized they were becoming "Obsolete" (Turned into legends like Wild Bill being written about in mini-books and Silent Movies).

The ongoing analogy between the Main Characters and VAMPIRES was SO COOL! Great writing. By focusing on the inner turmoil of those that truly believed they were doing right, (scene where McCoy kills the Indian Trafficer who felt he was "ENFORCING THE LAW"...and burning him)...(When Sam throws down his Pinkerton letter) realized they were doing wrong... were the true Vampires who preyed on innocents...(Native Americans)

Eventually, they too would die out from "overhunting" each time losing more and more of their humanity along the way...the humans they needed to exist were diminishing. Thus these "Men" (or Vampires) eventually had to prey on themselves (final shootout). Who was the real Vampire? Sam or McCoy.(Hmmn, McCoy gave up on his humanity, had a breakdown when he saw the movie, he could no longer carry all the evil he inflicted). He felt he had to kill Sam for he believed Sam was the culprit who was sucking the life from him... an Indian.

The true Vampire, or Devil had to die...One HAS to accept who they killing the demon within (the knife embedded in the body) and relinquish the lies a person tells himself (Sam attempting to "live as a white man). When Sam beat the knife thru McCoy he regained his humanity. One must live in peace and honesty in ones own mind and heart. Sam regained his while traveling, and "teaching" the boy to be White, eventually noticing the true beauty and innocence of Sally...His People.

This movie BLOWS away AVATAR on so many levels...AVATAR is HYPE, this story hits home on so many levels. My family came here 100 years ago. My grandparents forced my parents to speak only English, to "Blend into "Society" or white man's ways...We have done so. My children's history is not as vivid as mine. We have sacrificed our traditions for this Countries. We are now Lawyers, and Doctors...I imagine this is the sacrifice our ancestors agreed to make upon coming to this country to give us a better life.

I feel deeply for the Native Americans as Well as the African Americans who were forced into servitude against their will. This movie demonstrates with excellent historical accuracy, that people AT THE TIME thought they had good intentions, but many were just as cruel as the other. As time dictates in retrospect, the movie demonstrates how truly ignorant and intolerant man can be and still is towards one another. But if he truly sees himself for what he is...and repels evil...Man CAN CHANGE. Great historical flick.
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Bitter truth
johncp310 December 2010
After accidentally catching this fine film, I found myself seeking a copy to show in the U.S.History courses that I teach. While not Native myself, I do find that you cannot understand the problems of the modern US without taking a close look at the status of Blacks and Native Americans in a land built on the concepts of freedom, respect for culture and equality. The period detail is excellent. The archival images included in the film are striking and well thought out. The acting and plot elements very appropriate and excellently developed. The characters are complex and a very good representation of how individuals of that time would have functioned. The topic and supportive info detail an environment and actions by citizens, commercial parties and the government that are amongst the worse in US History. While I could see how some who would, by cultural background be forced to relate to the negative characters in the film, might desire to keep these types of events buried in the past. Exposure helps explain why we still have much to overcome if this society is ever really going to effectively blend.

I recommend this for open-minded individuals who appreciate good historical fiction. Those leaning more towards revisionism might want to pull out their favorite copy of "Birth of a Nation" or "They Died with Their Boots On" (Good movies, but get real!
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A Beautiful metamorphosis
emdragon26 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The Only Good Indian is a tribute to the plight of the Indian during the struggles of the early 1900s. The story is artistically crafted by director Kevin Willmott who creates a constantly moving aesthetic paradigm indicating the kinds of injustice man must suffer unto man in a period of upheaval for the Native American. It is an extremely human picture that carries the weight of a whole people and raises them up to a level of justice. I loved this movie. There are so many little deft touches that come home to the human heart. A young Indian boy, Charlie (played beautifully by Winter Fox Frank) takes off from his indoctrination school, and gets hunted down by self taught detective, Sam (Wes Studi), who has hopes of becoming a Pinkerton detective. Charlie must go back to school where Sam wants to take him to collect his $10 for bringing him back on the motorcycle and sidecar that Sam has purchased from a catalogue. Along the way to bringing Charlie back to his school he sees a Pinkerton reward poster for $1000 for another runaway Indian girl, Sally, who has been accused of murder (though it turns out she killed an orderly at an insane asylum who had raped her). He finds her living in a church where she has become beloved by the pastor and his wife. Sam takes her with them. The white man's ways have nearly convinced Sam to play the game the way the new world of white man's order would have it. Along the road to bringing back his captives however, Sam gets reminded in savage ways of the white man's brutal ways. He is slowly remembering his native beginnings, as Charlie and Sally remind him in subtle ways how he once must have believed. Along the way, he turns down a Pinkerton job as he helps Charlie spring Sally from jail, runs from an ever following Sheriff, and gets re-composed toward his own true heritage. With fine cinematography and a very good cast, this picture had me teary eyed near the end, and gave me a glimpse of real sympathy into the native American heart.
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A new and important addition to the "Western" film genre
jmccrea-692-47628124 February 2011
I live in Lawrence Kansas where one of the earliest "normalizing" schools was set up for Indian children. Parents, after having their children confiscated, traveled and set up tents around Haskell School where their mournful cries were heard every night. This film is the FIRST in cinema history (that I am aware of anyway) that attempts to refer to this era of American history from this point of view. The storyline and script are dramatically engaging. The movie showcases a clash of cultures but rather than generalizing, the film reveals the individuality of both white and native individuals and showcases just how war and strife can create opportunistic "survivors" from any ethnic group.

I believe this movie adds a new chapter to the Western genre because the Native point of view is well represented in a realistic and powerful manner and because the protagonists, an Indian boy and man, are put into a fully developed role!
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A great movie all should see
charlyd728 May 2010
GREAT movie. Well done, and though names are fictitious, there is the awful truth in the events.

How can it be that we have not recognized the error of our actions, and made some restitution? The black Americans are calling for restitution for the slavery of their ancestors, have we not done worse by the Indians?

Those of us who live near Indian reservations, can on a daily basis, the plight of the Indians, who are still, in this day and age, treated with scorn and distaste.

Why, when our neighbor to the north, has recognized the injustice in the removal of children from their families, and made restitution, and formally apologized for their actions, can we do less.
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Early 1900s native Indian drama highly watchable
mrcibubur10 November 2010
James Boyd is certainly right in many of the things he says about this movie but this is definitely a movie to watch and not avoid.

We all know about cowboys and Indians from westerns. This is a western with a difference, the story obviously focuses on the young Indian boy and the bounty hunter character called Sam Franklin who also happens to be a native Indian himself.

The film does well to analyse the rights and wrongs of our actions in defending something which is clearly fundamentally wrong but the law permits it. As has been said, the early 1900s depicts a sign of the changing times, just as similarly depicted in 'Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee', another native Indian theme movie which I particularly liked.

Okay its not a great movie and it wont win any major awards but it tells the story it intends to tell and it brings to our attention a number of issues at political area about the treatment of native Indians which it seems the American government has not (and perhaps will never) addressed.

I liked the movie, the acting is acceptable to the quality of the script. Just enjoy the movie!
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" I am either a White Red man or a Red White Man. Both are phantoms"
thinker169126 June 2011
Only a young Native American child, rounded up, captured and imprisoned within the confines of a religious institution, can truly understand the many torturous indignities of the past. Viewing this unfortunate punishment inflicted on children of Canadian ancestry, brings back horrors long dormant in history. Now, director Kevin Willmott, takes the story written by Thomas L. Carmody and imprints it on the silver screen. Incredibly talented, Wes Studi gives an impressive Academy Award performance in this film called " The only Good Indian ". He plays 'Sam' an indoctrinated Indian who has come to believe the only way to succeed in the modern White Man's world is to think and act like one. To that end, he plays an American tracker and survivor of the infamous Sand Creek massacre. J. Kenneth Campbell plays McCoy, an aging, crusty face survivor of the same incident, except that he, despite his murderous participation emerged a frontier hero. Winter Fox Frank plays 'Charlie' a reluctant Indian boy who was kidnapped and taken to a religious school to transform him into a 'civilized' Indian. Along for the journey is Sally (Thirza Defoe), a young Cherokee girl who killed a white man who was assaulting her. The trio are making their way across the land, all the while being pursued and discovering the ever-changing world of the twentieth century. With the exceptional performances of the cast, this movie is filled with eye-opening scenes which explain to anyone who has a heart, the difficulties of adapting to an alien world. The end result is that it should have garnered more awards and praise, in fact it should have been released in the main-stream theaters. It is this writer's opinion that, in time, it will become a Classic. Superior acting. ****
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You don't like this film, I wonder why ?!
santasa9916 May 2015
In The Only Good Indian we peek at this particular fragment of US (and Canadian) history from First Nations point of view, and follow a tale which is just a part of the voluminous story of how Impostor Americans took place of Real Americans, after committing genocide, unprecedented in human history - Europeans exterminated possibly up to 80 million (some estimate even up to 100 million) of indigenous Americans (Real American), from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, since 1492. Plot is set in US, sometime in late 19th century or early 1900's, which makes it even harder to swallow, although with the amount and level of racism, exceptionalism, Islamophobia, and all kinds of chauvinism and discriminations in Americas today, especially in US, this statement might be redundant or dubious, maybe even unnecessary. On the other hand reaction of certain individuals here and elsewhere, placed as reviews and/or comments, are truly appalling, no mater how predictable and expected. Bottom line, the film taking point of view which is rare in American cinematography - invisible people's point of view, which shed light on inconvenient history and criminal past.
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A Parody of "The Searchers" utterly bereft of any value, aesthetic or otherwise
modularsky6 December 2009
I had the dubious pleasure of catching this title at the Santa Fe Film festival.

I'm baffled as to how this has a 7.5 rating. I wasn't going to say anything until I heard this won "best picture" at the festival.

This movie is essentially a native American / first American revenge story; its didactic goals are to remind us of the atrocities committed against the Indians by the federal government and people working under its tacit permission and to re-figure the typical "wild west" narrative into something that actually does justice to the story of Native Americans. This is accomplished by a kind of "modernization" of the plot setting: The protagonist, Sam (played by Wes Studi) is a roving bounty hunter who captures Indian runaways from a nearby Indian School. This movie has some heavy political undertone. I grew up near "Indian School" road without the slightest notion of what the name of the road was derived from. This movie's job, then is to make a kind of "Indian Drama" in the story of the escapees of the school, their interactions with Sam, and their ultimate destiny. But also, it is there to portray the horrors that Indians faced in early-20th century America, horrors that are too often missing from Americans' self-knowledge.

These two drives end up pulling the film apart. But all of the above was written as if the movie above actually had any idea what they were trying to say with the film. It's running length (114 minutes) is ridiculous for a film of this subject and budget, the acting abysmal, the story banal.
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A Waste of talent and time!
ejhutchaz6 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
What I have to say may be considered a "spoiler" if it deters anyone from watching this film. As a long time western movie fan, I always am first in line to view those films which attempt to give an honest (non-Hokeywood) portrayal of the Native American, and their struggle to survive the ruthless wanton destruction of their culture. I wanted to see this movie after viewing the promos, and also because I am a longtime fan of Wes Studi, who has brought a strong integrity to every performance. This film is certainly no "Dances With Wolves", and did NOT, IMHO, live up to its potential, or my expectations, because it couldn't make up its mind what it wanted to be - a cutting edge film about the way Native American children were brutally treated at the white man's "schools", - or just another hokey, cartoonish "Chase and Shoot-em-up", with a dime novel lawman played over the top by J. Kenneth Campbell. Unfortunately it tried to be both, with the "dime novel" side dominating, and in the process seriously diluted the impact it could've had. I will say that Winter Fox Frank was excellent in his part as the runaway boy, and Wes Studi did the best he could with a part, and a script, that was NOT up to his level of talent. Watch it if you must, but know it's 115 minutes of your life you will never get back!!
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Nice Application of Dracula by Stoker
beorhhouse28 March 2018
As films go, this one is excellent. How many would think DRACULA could be applied to a story about American Indians being tricked and massacred by Europeans. This film gives part of the story. And, I'm not "White" or Indian--half of both, English and Cherokee/Creek, but I understand trespass (sin) and how to escape (via the Sacrifice of the Wisdom of God come in human form). Too trippy for you? Then don't watch this film, which is almost as trippy. If David Lynch made a film about Indians... you get the picture.
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The Native American "Uncle Tom"
yeodawg15 November 2011
Sam a Cherokee Indian has the world by the balls, he has everything all figured out. He's got his own Detective Agency, which is about to be bought up by Pinkerton Security agency and they're about to make him an agent. With his fancy clothes and motorbike he's spinning his wheels tracking down squaws that escape from the assimilation schools. He tells this to Charlie after he captures him. calling him a red-n-word, and how proud he is that he shrugged off his Native American trappings. Charlie tells them about another run-away Indian who's wanted for double murder. Now SAM isn't new to racism and seems to deal with the anti-Indian sentiment around town, in fact he profits off of it. On their tale is another bounty hunter McCOY the local Sheriff who isn't shown that much respect either. McCOY is world renown Indian killer and heroine addict. He reveals Sam's past telling him "Half the Indians I get credit for, were killed by you". Sam who is running from his passed is forced to face it.
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