12 July 2005 | silverscreen888
Sleeper--Rich, Superior Siege Story; Strong Characters...
The storyline here is a classic one, I suggest. A group of persons end up trapped by at remote outpost, Apache River, when Apaches break out of the reservation. Already there when a tough sheriff brings in a prisoner are a city girl on her way to meet her fiancé, a bigoted army colonel, the owner's wife who is frantic to escape the arid and lonely locale, and the hired man who fancies her. At first the Indians act peaceably; but the colonel, whom they loathe because of his past crimes against the Indians causes them to lay siege to the station. The city girl blames the sheriff for being too-brutal; the events of the film prove he knows the West better than she does. An interesting episode occurs when they capture the Indians' leader during an Indian strike, and they have a chance to interact with him, before he is killed by his own men. The film was vividly directed by Lee Sholem, with a script filled with good dialogue and action scenes supplied by Arthur Ross from Robert J. Hogan's novel "Apache Landing". The production looks expensive, thanks to contributions from some of Hollywood's best: music by Frank Skinner and others, art direction by Hilyard Brown and Bernard Herzbrun, cinematography by Charles P. Boyle, set decoration by Oliver Emert and Russell A. Gausman, costume design by Bill Thomas, makeup by Joan St. Oegger, makeup by Bud Westmore, and action scene and second unit work by Jesse Hibbs. The rather good cast includes capable Stephen McNally as the sheriff, pretty Julia Adams as the Eastern girl, Hugh Marlowe as the evil Colonel Moresby, Hugh O'Brian as the station owner, Jaclynne Greene as his unhappy wife, Jack Kelly as the smitten helper, veteran Russell Johnson as the captured killer, and powerful Edgar Barrier as the captured chief. The production is attractive and looks good on color, and the narrative flows very well, building real suspense as the embattled group fight against Indian attacks, dwindling ammunition and loss of food, water and hope. This is a very well-written and memorable western in many ways, not the least of which is its superior characters. it ends with the sheriff and the girl reaching an understanding, and the siege being lifted.