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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

WAR ARROW (1953)

This B+ Western from Universal comes with a good cast and square helming from George Sherman, but it’s main lure may be as John Michael Hayes’ final script credit before starting his run of Hitchcock classics (REAR WINDOW/’54; TO CATCH A THIEF/’55; THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY/’55; THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH/’56). (Though you’ll have to look hard to find intimations of Hitchcockian themes & obsessions.) Not bad in itself, with a neat set-up that has Army Major Jeff Chandler going over the head of fort commander John McIntire to recruit & train a band of defeated Seminole Indians to use as a guerrilla brigade against a larger force of marauding Kiowas. Their easy success brings out the worst in McIntire, while a couple of headstrong women (Suzan Ball’s forward thinking Seminole and army widow Maureen O’Hara) take aim at the handsome new Major. Noah Beery, Jr. and Charles Drake do surprisingly well as comic relief aides to Chandler* and lenser William Daniels does justice to the beauteous Ms O’Hara once he figures out her bone structure. He’s even better shooting action out on the flatlands. But everyone’s defeated by a couple of lousy nighttime (Day-for-Night) soundstage exteriors. Yikes!, who dressed that set? Still, those who can deal with Dennis Weaver as an Indian Brave, and some painfully generic Western movie music, will find a thoughtful/inventive side to this one.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Hayes really had a great touch with comic seasoning. The Hitch we all think we know from those tv show intros largely comes out of the tone Hayes found for Thelma Ritter’s character in REAR WINDOW and from just about everything in TROUBLE WITH HARRY.

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