Geronimo (1962 with Chuck Connors and Adam West)

USA / 1962

Dir: Arnold Laven
Writer: Pat Fielder, Arnold Laven

Cast: Chuck Connors, Kamala Devi, Ross Martin, Pat Conway, Adam West, Enid Jaynes, Lawrence Dobkin, Denver Pyle

The real-life 19th century Apache Indian chief Geronimo led a sustained battle against settlers in America before his eventual capture in 1886. This Western, though, departs from the facts and depicts the legendary Indian as a war-weary soldier who surrenders to the U.S cavalry in 1883. Dates aside, this is an admirably liberal look at the oppression of Native Americans in the 19th century and their attempts to fight back.

Chuck Connors stars as Geronimo, leading his people to surrender when the US government promises land, food and shelter for his tribes. Instead, however, the Indians are forced to eke out a frugal existence as farmers on the San Carlos Reservation, where the local schoolteacher, Teela (Kamala Devi) encourages Geronimo to read and write. He is forced to rebel when two of the white men he’s dealing with, Reverend Burns (John Anderson) and Captain Maynard (Pat Conway), sell part of his land to a cattle baron. Outraged, the Indians head for Mexico to renew their war with the cavalry and claim back what is rightfully theirs.

Filmed on location in Mexico, Geronimo attempts to tell its story with dignity as it exposes the American government’s shameful past. As well as sweeping panoramic views of the Wild West, the film is also notable for an early appearance by Adam West as Delahay; West would spend most of the 60s fighting another form of corruption as TV’s Batman.

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