11 May 2014 | hitchcockthelegend
Murky Machinations Afoot.
Ray Nazarro directs from a screenplay written by Ray Buffum and DeVallon Scott. It stars Gary Merrill, Wanda Hendrix, John Bromfield, Noah Beery Junior, Jay Silverheels, Fay Roope and Howard Wendell. Music is by Mischa Bakaleinikoff and Technicolor cinematography is by Ellis W. Carter.
"During the Civil War, Southern sympathisers made desperate efforts to aid the Confederacy by inciting Indian uprisings against defenceless towns along the Western frontier. The objective was to force large withdrawals of Northern troops from the main battlefronts, leaving them more vulnerable to Southern attack. This is the story of one such attempt that took place in Dakota territory in the year 1864."
A colourful and brisk picture that finds the efficient Nazarro cramming as much Oater styled fun as he can into just over an hour of film. The core basics of the story is full of intrigue, with undercover Confederate operatives moving amongst Union denizens as the Sioux argue amongst themselves about the viability of Abe Lincoln's offer of peace. There's a bit of thought gone into the screenplay, even offering up one or two genuine surprises, while it's nice to find that the lead female role played by Hendrix gives us a feisty femme of substance as opposed to the many other dressage characterisations that so dominated other 50s Oaters. California location landscapes a bonus, as is Beery Junior's commitment to his role, and Nazarro knows his way around a violent action scene.
Fun enough while it's on without ever breaking out of its very basic "B" Western worth, The Black Dakotas is regardless above average and worth some viewing time by fans of such high spirited dusters. 6/10