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  • When a ruthless and bloodthirsty major slaughters a band of Apaches who have come with a white flag looking to surrender, the U.S. army finds itself in an all out war with Apaches under Victorio, who has left the reservation. The commander of Fort Bowie, Col. Garrett, finds his job to contain the hostiles complicated after his wife, unhappy in her situation, makes false allegations of improper advances against Captain Thompson. The colonel then decides to send the captain on a suicide mission, to find and order Victorio back to the reservation.

    Very much a "B" western, with script and acting to match, it features the always entertaining Ben Johnson in a rare leading role. His horsemanship is very much on display, at one point jumping his horse over the walls of Fort Bowie to get at the Apaches, who have overrun the fort. Beautiful Jana Davi also graces the screen as the half Mexican, half Apache Chanzana, one of Victorio's former wives. She has her heart set on landing Captain Thompson, but he is distracted by Alison Garrett, thinking her an ideal army wife.

    Though "Fort Bowie" will never be mistaken for one of John Ford's western classics, there is plenty of action to satisfy most fans of the genre.
  • At a cavalry outpost, the colonel (Taylor) dispatches a captain (Johnson) on a suicide mission among the Apaches because of rivalry over his wife's (Harrison) affections.

    The colonel loves wife Allison, but she loves the captain, I think. And, the captain loves her, at least some of the time. However, the rest of the time, he loves Chanzana, but Chanzana is half Apache, and I think she loves Apache leader Victorio. Oh well, I may be wrong about all this, but then the script can't seem to make up its mind either. So maybe you can sort it out.

    Good thing there's lots of action to interrupt this frontier soap opera. In fact I don't know when I've heard more shooting. Seems like somebody's always wiping out somebody else. Boy, was I surprised when the major shoots all the Indians carrying that white flag of truce. Pretty rotten thing for our guys to do, which sets off all the shooting because now the Apaches want revenge.

    But then it seems like the Indians like roasting our guys over an upside-down spit. That's pretty rotten too and not in any multi-cultural handbook I know of. Then too, that part reminds me of another good Apache movie, Ulzana's Raid (1971), where the Apaches also practice some strange culinary arts. Even stranger, however, is when the Indians defend the fort against attacking cavalry (I love that wagon-ramp trick). Now where has any Western fan seen that upside-down world before.

    Anyway, it's an okay Western with some interesting sidelights and the great Ben Johnson. I'm just wondering why they went all the way to scenic Kanab, Utah to film, and then didn't didn't do it in Technicolor. Then again, maybe they spent their budget on all the big shoot- outs. But-- bottom line-- if you can untangle the big who-loves-whom puzzle in this movie, I'm sure there's a place for you at People magazine. Otherwise, you might want to catch up with this cowboys-and-Indians on an especially slow night.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Howard W. Koch directs this black & white action packed sage brush yarn. A band of Apaches with every intention of a peaceful surrender are slaughtered by a detachment from Fort Bowie, where Major Wharton(J. Ian Douglas)rules with an iron hand. Colonel James Garrett's(Kent Taylor)wife Alison(Jan Harrison)is joining her husband and for safety is escorted by Captain Tom Thompson(Ben Johnson). Garrett is a tried and true military man more than eager to carry out orders to go out and gun down Apaches. Feeling ignored in the romance department, Alison claims that Thompson is trying to steal her affection. This succeeds in making the Colonel jealous, but also a pretty Indian girl Chanzana(Jana Davi), who is in love with the dashing Thompson. A turn of events has the Cavalry being forced to attack their own fort following an Apache takeover. This battle is frantic and the best part of the movie. I personally like the few scenes featuring the absolutely beautiful Miss Davi. Others in the cast: Larry Chance, Peter Mamakos and Jerry Frank.
  • I just finished watching Fort Bowie, and was pleasantly surprised at what a good movie it was. I had never seen it before and the review I had read said it was a low budget film, but the cuts must have come from the actors salary. Ben Johnson was super as was most of the rest of the cast. I also was thrilled to see Johnny Western in a fairly noticeable role. The action scenes were certainly big budget caliber. I recently saw the last western that Ben Johnson made and there was little change in his appearance, except for a bit of weight gain. To me his acting is as natural as John Waynes. Kent Smith did a creditable job in his role. As far as the other actors I wasn't familiar with any of them except the "old sarge", but the movie was far better than I was expecting.
  • osloj21 March 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

    *Plot and ending analyzed*

    Fort Bowie (1958) is a horrible Western, and there are many reasons that being the case. The most notable is a diluted script, bad acting, and a baseless portrayal of the Apache Indians war tactics. Ben Johnson is ineffective as the lead man, for he's as stiff as a bucket of heavy lead. You don't know if he sympathizes with the Apaches or wants them all killed, since he alternates throughout. I don't think it matters much since he comes off as some arrogant jerk.

    The Apaches themselves are played as half-grunting oafs. The plot is the standard U.S. Cavalry versus the much-hated Apaches. One officer wants to use mild tactics, while another wants to kill them outright.

    In the film, the Apaches attack a large fort head-on in one of the most ridiculous scenes of a Western. In reality, two Apaches could have sneaked in and burnt the fort during the night. But the Apaches were intelligent and always avoided large groups of soldiers or forts.

    They also threw in a paltry love interest side-story that is so stupid that it defies any intelligence. The only reason to watch this film is because of the stuntmen who perform some good horse riding and battles scenes, that's about it.

    Ben Johnson was a good character actor, but not a reliable lead.

    This film falls short of being average at that.
  • This film is a surprise, it turns out to be much better than expected, considering few people ever heard about it. Ben Johnson as Capt. Thompson proves that he should had more leading roles. The two women, the beautiful Jana Davi (born in Ceylon) and Jan Harrison are responsible for making this a better than average B western. Harrison is Allison, the unfaithful wife of Col. James Garret. Jana Davi is Chanzana one of the wives of Victorio, who leaves the reservation and declares war. This reaction was caused by Major Wharton's bloody and unjustified massacre of Santo and his men who wanted to make peace. Both women fall in love with Thompson, who tries to resist because of the consequences. Good cinematography and the music is by Les Baxter.
  • The west started to grow up in the Fifties and Fort Bowie was not the kind of film that would have been a Saturday matinée feature for the Gene and Roy crowd a decade earlier. It deals with sexual attention and suggested infidelity stuff that was not covered by those Republic cowboys in this United Artists release.

    A pair of biblical stories served as plot devices for Fort Bowie. Jan Harrison is the bored wife of commander Kent Taylor and one day in a fit of pique like Potiphar's wife after Ben Johnson rejects her advances says that she and Johnson got it on. Taylor reacts like King David and sends Johnson on a Uriah the Hittite like mission to try and talk to Larry Chance as Vittorio leader of the Apaches to surrender peacefully.

    Quite understandably Vittorio is in no mood to talk peace with any white men. An eager for promotion officer played by J. Ian Douglas massacred a bunch of Apaches who came in under a flag of truce. By sheer luck and rescue from an unexpected source Johnson escapes.

    The climax of the film is a slam bang see saw battle for Fort Bowie is the highlight of the film and western fans who crave action will have no cause for complaint.

    Color might have added something, but Fort Bowie is a western fans dream.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The only thing raising this movie to the level of a B-western is Ben Johnson in the unusual casting of being the movie's lead, Capt. Thompson. All other aspects, the dialog, plot, production values, you name it, just don't add up to the low expectations one expects of a middling B-lister.

    The plot is standard for this type of movie: A rabid Army officer bent on making a name starts an Indian war. The much more competent (and noble) lower ranking officer Johnson can do nothing to stop it, nor can he stop his colonel from becoming needlessly jealous, believing Johnson is having an affair with his wife. Any sane individual would only need to look at the wife and then at the Indian love interest played by Maureen Hingert to know Johnson would need to be daft or blind to go for the wife (OK, Hingert is Ceylonese, not Indian, but Ceylon is pretty close to India so in that respect, one could argue she's closer to Indian than most actresses in these westerns). Everything comes together in a battle for Ft. Bowie that must be seen to be believed. Like Hitler, forced to fight on two fronts, the Indians are on the fort walls fighting to keep the cavalry out of the fort while also fighting to break into buildings inside the fort. Bodies from both sides pile up on the walls and then mysteriously disappear to make room for more bodies. It's also in this fight that we get to see Jan Harrison turn on her "love switch" as she suddenly realizes her true feelings for her colonel husband (Kent Taylor, soon to be demoted to Captain and become one of the three Rough Riders for one season of TV) who stands fully exposed in front of a window even between shots. This leads to the worst scene in the movie as Johnson and Larry Chance (Victorio, who actually died in Mexico) fight it out forever while Taylor stands with drawn gun refusing to pull the trigger and end our misery.

    As for the noisy arrows in the summary... I don't know where these Indians got their bows but they need to buy some silencers for them as the noise they make when they release their arrows would alert a sentry miles distant.

    Except for the novelty of seeing Johnson headline a movie and maybe the eye candy of Ms. Hingert, there's nothing to recommend this film. Most Audie Murphy 1950s Westerns are more fun so if given a choice, Murphy is the way to go.
  • januszlvii16 February 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    Maureen Hingert/Jana Davi did very few movies , but like other beautiful women of the 1959's like Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Kim Novak she always finds a way to stand out. Here she plays Chanzan a half Apache/Mexican ex wife of Apache leader Victorio who loves Captain Thomas Thompson ( Ben Johnson), and will do anything for him. The problems are. 1: He is also attracted to Alison Garrett ( Jan Harrison) who is the wife of his Commanding Officer ( Kent Smith). 2: Thompson wants to make the military a career, and having a woman like Chanzan around will stop any hope of promotion. Spoilers ahead: Unlike most movies with a white man and native American woman, they actually end up together. How? Because chose Thompson over her people, and freed him after he was held hostage in the Indian Camp, she saved the life of not only Thompson but of everyone at Fort Bowie. 10/10 stars
  • Fort Bowie is directed by Howard W. Koch and written by Maurice Tombragel. It stars Ben Johnson, Jan Harrison, Kent Taylor, Maureen Hingert, Peter Mamakos and Larry Chance. Music is by Les Baxter and cinematography by Carl E. Guthrie.

    In the main Fort Bowie is a Cavalry and Indians "B" Western, one that's predictable even if it's not afraid to show then ugly side of Cavalry brutality. Plot is built around Johnson's Captain Thompson, who after witnessing Major Wharton's (J. Ian Douglas) cruel slaughter of surrendering Apaches, reports to Colonel Garett (Taylor) that an attack by the Apache is imminent. Garrett promptly requests that Thompson escort his wife away from harm. Easier said than done, for Mrs. Garrett is a femme fatale causing as much consternation as the Apache!

    It's great seeing Johnson in the lead, he holds court and is the fulcrum of what makes Fort Bowie better than average. His character's nickname is "Tomahawk" due to his ability with said weapon, and it's not long before we get to see it in action. In fact it's notable that the first battle staged is fought with axes, swords and arrows on both sides, and it's a well constructed battle. Alison Garrett (Harrison) is trouble and the poison she lays down is the worst kind, and it's that that gives the film an extra narrative kick. Helps that Harrison is socko gorgeous, who in turn is supplemented by other beauties Hingert and Barbara Parry.

    So while some of the cast do indeed look stunning, so to does the scenery, with location filming out of Kanab excellently photographed by Guthrie. It's a shame this wasn't afforded some Technicolor frontage. The vistas make for some striking scenes, as the Indians gather and descend the hills etc. Everything is building up to the big final battle at Fort Bowie, where as the romantic shenanigans reach their peaks, so does the culmination of the Cavalry and Indians toing and froing. It's exciting, the stunt people earning their corn, to round out a thoroughly enjoyable genre piece for the so inclined for such. 7/10
  • not a review on the movie but I wonder if anyone could give more information on Jana Davi/Maureen Hingert? I am a large fan of movies from the 30's, 40's and 50's and liked this lady. It seems a shame she was in so few pictures and would like to know more about her. .... Just an old man's interest. Any input would be appreciated.

    Probably not a large number of people can fill in any information for a minor actress but I would like to have any information available.

    There HAS to be someone out there that has some information on her.

    Thank you for any help.

    I just saw her in GUN FEVER and fell in love with her all over again. Don't ask me why, I just did.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Ben Johnson is nothing if not a genuinely likable guy. Sure, he's from Oklahoma and Texas and grew up with horses and for all we know his politics, combined with all that equinity, may have put him somewhere to the right of Genghis Kahn.

    But that would be hard to believe. He's measured and slow in speech and demeanor. When he says "Yes, sir" or "No, sir", it sounds like he's been using those polite forms of address since infancy. I've always liked the guy, even when he was a heavy in "Shane." (He reformed.) He's handsome too, and he sits a horse splendidly. Under John Ford he was never anything except a "trooper" or, at most, a sergeant. Here, he's a commissioned officer. It's easy to see why he might have gotten mixed up in the unholy mess that is this movie.

    Alas, he's not only a Captain, he's a romantic lead. It just doesn't sound kosher when Ben Johnson is compelled to say something like, "Listen, you mean more to me than any woman I've ever known, but you're not for me." That's not Ben Johnson. That's the screenwriter, Maurice Tombragel, taking a snooze instead of working.

    At least the woman he's romancing, the mammose Maureen Hingert, is beautiful. She was Miss Ceylon somewhere back in the 1950s. She doesn't look much like an Apache though. She's all glamorized up with eye make up and lipstick and silken hair.

    But then so is the dissatisfied and ambitious wife of the Commanding Officer. He's Kent Taylor. She's Jan Harrison. Taylor has a Hollywood haircut and the neatly trimmed beard of a college professor. He acts like a Hollywood utility player. Jan Harrison can't act at all, but at least she was "Miss Washington State" at some point. With a little imagination Maurice Tombragel could have interpolated a swimsuit competition. ("Darling, why don't you and Chanzana go down to the river, slip into your tiny bikinis, and have a nice swim? I'll join you later with the videocam." See how easy it is?)

    I don't know how far I want to bother getting into this. The musical score is by Les Baxter, who did some nice arrangements for pop songs in the 50s, but this is generic and could have been written by a Magic 8 Ball. The Apaches speak Indianese. "You get off horse. Leave guns." (That's a direct quote.)

    You know, I hate saying this, but it's impossible to watch a movie like this -- cavalry versus Apache -- without Ford's enchiridion coming to mind, especially examples like "Fort Apache" and "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon." Ford's movies have a lived-in quality. It's not just that characters are fleshed out with human quirks, while here everyone is stripped of every feature that doesn't advance the story. It's that in "Yellow Ribbon," John Wayne wears red long johns under his dusty uniform. Here, the uniforms are tightly tailored, not baggy and used. The boots are refulgent. They're so polished they probably emit a glow in the dark.

    There's a scene in which a sergeant is captured and tortured by the Apache. ("Torture him. Torture him good.") Well, the truth is that the Plains Indians were pretty rough customers when it came to torture, though of course it wasn't torture to them. They probably called it "enhanced execution." The Apache might debone captives, beginning with the phalanges, but they expected the same treatment from their enemies. The attitude towards battle of the Indians on the high plains was remarkably similar to that of the Greek city states -- bravery was a virtue of the highest order.

    Anyway, however much I enjoy Ben Johnson, he's not enough to save this movie. Let's fillet this sucker.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It was just what I expected, basically a B Movie, and I enjoyed it on a B movie/western level. Ben Johnson is always watchable,was an expert horseman and great stunt rider. Does everyone else, like me, get mixed up when it comes to actor Kent Taylor and Kent Smith? Not only are their names alike, I think they look alike. It was Taylor that starred in this one. I thought the subplot involving Taylor's less than exciting wife dragged this movie down a little on excitement. I liked Johnson's nickname "Tomahawk", but then nothing was really done with his tomahawk to deserve the name, other than he used it occasionally as a side arm. And what about that ending! The only thing I didn't like (*SPOILER ALERT*) was the way the finished the fight with Johnson and the Apache, what a cowardly act by the commanding officer!