Comanche (1956 with Dana Andrews and Kent Smith)

USA / 1956

Director: George Sherman
Writer: Carl Krueger

Cast: Dana Andrews, Kent Smith, Nestor Paiva, Henry Brandon, John Litel, Lowell Gilmore, Mike Mazurki, Linda Cristal

Westerns in the ’50s frequently contained the message that Americans and Native Americans must live in harmony together, and Comanche is a fine example of the genre (even down to the casting of Americans such as Kent Smith and Mike Mazurki as Indian chiefs). The film was shot entirely on location in Mexico, by veteran western director George Sherman, and is set in the American South-West, circa 1875. Dana Andrews stars as frontier scout Jim Read, who’s sent to make contact with the chief of the Indian nation by a US Indian Bureau that’s keen to forge a peace treaty with the marauding Comanches.

Sickened by the endless bouts of bloodshed and violence, the Indian chief, Quanah Parker (Kent Smith), agrees to attend talks, but there are dissenters. Washington politician Ward (Lowell Gilmore) is unhappy with the suggested accord, as is an Indian-hating frontiersman, Downey (Stacy Harris). On the other side, one of the tribal chiefs, Black Cloud (Henry Brandon), also refuses to acknowledge the agreement and continues his sorties on white settlements. After Black Cloud massacres an army scouting party, Quanah and Read decide that some action must be taken against him, so Read sets off in pursuit of the war-mongering Indian.

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