6 November 2005 | Marlburian
Reasonable western with curiosity values
This is a reasonable Western with plenty of interesting points for students of the genre. For a start it has a Native American in a starring role. (There may be other instances of this in films made in the mid-20th century but none come to mind.) Jay Silverheels is Tecumseh, the Brave Warrior of the title, though his physical heroism is confined to a knife fight with his brother; his bravery relates more to his wisdom in coming to terms with white Americans, even building a town like one of theirs in which to house his people. He may be ahead of his time in social planning, but he is surely unwise in showing interest in the white heroine. Silverheels does well in this role, certainly when compared with his poker face and wooden lines as Tonto in the Lone Ranger series.
Very few of Jon Hall's films have made it to British TV, so it was good to see him. The rest of the cast do well enough, though their faces are unfamiliar to me and their names do not appear in Quinlan's directories of film actors. Katherine Larson looks and performs better than many heroines in Westerns of this era.
Best of all, it is an "early" Western, set in the early 1810s as tensions mount between Britain and the United States. The Brits are the baddies, but not too much so, thus there is novelty in the plot. The civilian clothes and army uniforms are of the period, as are the single-shot weapons, even if these seem to be reloaded incredibly quickly, especially in the river skirmish that opens the film.
The plot seemed to have an historical basis, so I checked, to discover, not surprisingly, that the film had tampered with the facts.Tecumseh and his brother appear to have been on better terms in real life, and they did found a "town" for their people, but whether this was on white men's lines is not stated.And though the film portrays Tecumseh as being on the side of the United States, after the events it depicts he did join the British side. (One does wonder what damage all these inaccurate Westerns did to people's understanding of American history.)