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Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Mexico (1951)

A Captain in the U.S. Cavalry (Lew Ayres) negotiates a peace treaty between an Indian chief (Ted De Corsia) and President Lincoln (Hans Conreid). But after Lincoln's assassination, the treaty is broken and the Indians are mistreated until they rebel. A final confrontation between the Cavalry and the Indians occurs in a plateau high in the New Mexico mountains where a small group of soldiers and civilians are surrounded by Indians. This is a minor western that is perhaps notable for its unusual (for the time) downbeat, near apocalyptic "nobody wins" ending. Since it is the Indians who were wronged and the white characters with one exception (Andy Devine) are an unpleasant bunch, we can't care too much about what happens to them. Ayres tries hard but he's not very convincing as the tough as nails Captain. The film was shot in Ansco color but the print I saw was in black and white. Directed by Irving Reis (THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBYSOXER) and with Marilyn Maxwell as a saloon singer, Raymond Burr (so overweight that he's near unrecognizable), John Hoyt, Jeff Corey and Verna Felton.

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