John Payne's character spouts all the native Indian racist and anti-feminist diatribes he can muster in this wild west actioner taking place on a pack train to Santa Fe. Kirby Randolph (Payne) and his partner Sam (Slim Pickens) look to redeem themselves from a prior scouting job that ended in disaster for settlers on a wagon train passing through Cottonwood Draw. This might be the first time I've seen an Indian tribe actually get drunk on screen, as Randloph's attempt to placate Chief Satank (George Keymas) only gets him fired up for revenge.
Credit the film makers with a significant historically accurate scene in which the main street of a Western town consists of about six inches of mud. You get to hear Payne in his role as the wagon scout refer to men required for point, swing, and drag duty. The film also has a great action scene involving a horse stampede that threatens the Griswold party, full of colorful sequences and quite well done.
At the center of the story lies a romantic triangle involving Randolph, his boss Griswold (Rod Cameron) and Griwswold's partner and expected future wife Aurelie St. Clair (Faith Domergue). The revelation of St. Clair's heritage as daughter of a Kiowa mother brings out a few more Injun clichés before the story's progress brings Randolph full circle in his thinking about accepting individuals on their own merits. By the time the Kiowa's make their final attack, Randolph can say "I won't have a squaw who won't take orders" with a nod, nod, wink, wink, and have St. Clair accept it with an understanding smile.
The one thing that kept distracting me though was the casting of Irene Tedrow as St. Clair's aide Ptewaquin. I never quite caught on that she would figure in one of the story's twist endings, probably because I kept trying to figure out where I'd seen her before. Checking out her career credits, now I know.
Best line of the picture - Satank describes the Mexican Chavez (Anthony Caruso), ally of Griswold - "Don't like him, stink too much, like dead buffalo." It conjures up as colorful a picture as the traitor McLawery (Leo Gordon) winding up as buzzard bait.
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