Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Davy Crockett, Indian Scout (1950)

Owlhoot Dale Goble sent me a copy of this film recently, which he recorded from Turner Classic Movies. (Thanks Gobe!) I’d never seen it, and found it mighty interesting.

The action takes place out West long after the fall of the Alamo, so the Davy we know is long gone and his namesake nephew is carrying on the tradition.

Nephew Davy is scouting for a wagon train, which is lucky enough to have a cavalry escort. Naturally, an Indian war party is out to ambush them, so Davy and the officers much choose one of two passes, hoping to fool the hostiles. Trouble is, the Indians have a spy on the train, and Davy’s pilgrims roll right into the ambush.

George Montgomery makes a decent Crockett, and I would have liked to see him playing the real one. His backwoods dialogue is packed with plenty of reckons and ain’ts and his buckskin shirt has about the right amount of fringe on it. And I can’t complain about his wearing a broad-brimmed hat, because there is a coonskin cap in the picture, worn by his sidekick Tex (Noah Beery Jr).

The film’s second lead is Phillip Reed, playing Davy’s Indian companion Red Hawk. Red Hawk is the noblest of savages – so noble that his constantly beatific demeanor would be more at home in a Biblical epic. Fourteen years earlier Reed had played the title role in The Last of the Mohicans, so I suppose that gave him Indian credentials.

The film delivered four surprises. First, that both Davy and Red Hawk fall for the same girl, a pretty young schoolmarm who joins the wagon train. Second, that the girl is secretly one-quarter Indian. Third, that she seems to prefer Red Hawk to Davy. And finally (and here comes a SPOILER), though I expected she would eventually wind up in Davy’s arms, she eventually rides off into the sunset with Red Hawk. Geez. How often do you see the Indian sidekick get the girl?

TCM presented this movie as one of several examples of the “noble savage” in Hollywood, and I found the inane comments of the series’ host and guest professor almost as entertaining as the film. I’ll be yapping about that tomorrow, right here on the Almanack.


Deka Black said...

The indian sidekick getting the girl? That's surprisng! I don't remember another timelike this.

Evan Lewis said...

Me neither. I wonder if theater audiences of the time were shocked.

Oscar Case said...

I always liked George Montgomery, no matter the movie.

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