15 July 2007 | bkoganbing
In the various tellings of the tale of the OK Corral, the name John Clum comes up as a peripheral character. At that point in his life he was Mayor of Tombstone, Arizona and founder and editor of the Tombstone Epitaph which was in editorial support of the Earp brothers. But before that John Clum was an Indian agent, sent to the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona to reform the corrupt practices regarding same. Audie Murphy plays an eager and honest Clum in this film.
The poor Indians were caught between a rock and a hard place. Either it was the army who was going to govern them or as was argued the civilian Interior Department.
Clum has some interesting and novel ideas about giving the Apaches a large measure of self government. But the real story of Clum is hardly touched on. He stands out simply because he was honest. Sad to say Indian agents for the most part were hack politicians from the political machines back east. Whether they were hired by the War Department or the Interior Department, a lot of them robbed the poor Indians blind. Right at this time, one of the most notorious scandals of the Grant Administration was the Whiskey Ring which involved various trading posts and reached right up to the Secretary of War, a gentleman named William Belknap who resigned before he was impeached.
Murphy gets able support from two leading ladies, pretty and perky Pat Crowley who plays his eastern fiancé and Anne Bancroft who is the spectacularly beautiful Indian widow who's crushing out on him. Jay Silverheels who played Geronimo in Broken Arrow, plays him again in Walk the Proud Land. Charles Drake plays the former army sergeant who hires on as a blacksmith at the San Carlos Reservation and becomes Murphy's best pal and confidante.
Walk the Proud Land is one of the few western films to have a choreographer in the person of Tommy Rall. Rall, a well known Broadway dancer, plays a young Indian warrior who becomes Murphy's friend. There is a lengthy sequence involving the Apaches entertaining some white VIPs at Murphy's wedding to Crowley with some tribal dances. A nice mix between the real deal and what you might see in Rose Marie's Totem Tom Tom number.
Walk the Proud Land is definitely one of Audie Murphy's better westerns for Universal and a nice tribute to a real western figure.