DIRECTED BY JOHN FORD
PRODUCED BY JOHN FORD/ MERIAN C. COOPER
MUSIC BY RICHARD HAGEMAN
AN ARGOSY PICTURES PRODUCTION
RKO RADIO PICTURES
Information from IMDb
In John Ford's sombre exploration of THE FETTERMAN MASSACRE OF 1866 mythologising of American heroes,
he slowly reveals the character of Owen Thursday,
who sees his new posting to the desolate Fort Apache as a chance to claim the military honour which he believes is rightfully his.
Arrogant, obsessed with military form and ultimately self-destructive,
Thursday attempts to destroy the Indian warrior Cochise after luring him across the border from Mexico.
Summary by Bernard Keane
John Wayne .... Capt. Kirby York
Henry Fonda .... Lt. Col. Owen Thursday
Shirley Temple .... Philadelphia Thursday
Pedro Armendáriz .... Sgt. Beaufort (as Pedro Armendariz)
Ward Bond .... Sgt. Maj. Michael O'Rourke
George O'Brien .... Capt. Sam Collingwood
Victor McLaglen .... Sgt. Festus Mulcahy
Anna Lee .... Mrs. Emily Collingwood
Irene Rich .... Mrs. Mary O'Rourke
Dick Foran .... Sgt. Quincannon
Guy Kibbee .... Capt. Dr. Wilkens
Grant Withers .... Silas Meacham
Jack Pennick .... Sgt. Daniel Schattuck
Ray Hyke .... Lt. Gates (Adjutant)
Movita .... Guadalupe (Col. Thursday's cook)
Miguel Inclán .... Cochise (as Miguel Inclan)
Mary Gordon .... Ma (barmaid)
Philip Kieffer .... Cavalryman (as Philip Keiffer)
Mae Marsh .... Mrs. Gates
Hank Worden .... Southern recruit
John Agar .... 2nd Lt. Michael Shannon O'Rourke
Cliff Clark .... Stage driver (uncredited)
Frank Ferguson .... Newspaperman (uncredited)
Francis Ford .... Fen (stage guard) (uncredited)
William Forrest .... Reporter (uncredited)
Fred Graham .... Cavalryman (uncredited)
Frank McGrath .... Cpl. Derice (bugler) (uncredited)
Mickey Simpson .... NCO at dance (uncredited)
Harry Tenbrook .... Tom O'Feeney (courier) (uncredited)
Archie Twitchell .... Reporter (uncredited)
James Warner Bellah story Massacre
Frank S. Nugent
William H. Clothier (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Lowell J. Farrell .... assistant director (as Lowell Farrell)
Cliff Lyons .... second unit director (uncredited)
Jack Pennick .... assistant director (uncredited)
Frank Baker .... stunts (uncredited)
Fred Carson .... stunts (uncredited)
John Epper .... stunts (uncredited)
Richard Farnsworth .... stunts (uncredited)
Fred Graham .... stunts (uncredited)
John Hudkins .... stunts (uncredited)
Ben Johnson .... stunts (uncredited)
Walt La Rue .... stunts (uncredited)
Cliff Lyons .... stunts (uncredited)
Frank McGrath .... stunts (uncredited)
Gil Perkins .... stunts (uncredited)
Bob Rose .... stunts (uncredited)
Danny Sands .... stunts (uncredited)
Barlow Simpson .... stunts (uncredited)
Jack Williams .... stunts (uncredited)
Henry Wills .... stunts (uncredited)
The Fort Apache fort, built for this production, stood for years. It was reused in dozens of productions, most notably the TV series "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" (1954). It was located at the Corriganville Movie Ranch in Simi Valley, California. Today it is possible to visit this location, as it is now administered as a City Park in Simi Valley.
The plot for this movie was loosely based on Custer's Last Stand with Thursday as Custer and substituting Apaches for the Sioux. The cover-up by the survivors and the military of Thursday's blunder is in line with the cover up of Custer's mistakes and deliberate disobedience of his orders at Little Big Horn.
Shirley Temple and John Agar were married at the time the movie was made, but went through a highly publicized divorce complete with allegations of spousal abuse, infidelity and alcoholism a couple of years later.
Henry Fonda's last film before he was graylisted for his left-wing political activism.
The "Apache" Indians were really members of the Navajo tribe.
Cinematographer Archie Stout and John Ford used infrared black-and-white film stock, developed originally for medical and scientific researches and which doesn't sense the blue and records that color as black, in many exterior scenes shot in the Monument Valley to enhance the clouds and the rock formations. Ford learned that technique from Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa that he worked with for The Fugitive (1947).
First entry to John Ford's famed "Cavalry Trilogy," followed by She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950), though it was not originally intended as a trilogy. This second project Ford's independent venture teaming with Merian C. Cooper was planed to give their company 'Argosy Productions' financial stability after the commercial failure of The Fugitive (1947).
In 1953, RKO theatrically reissued this film on a double bill with another western, Blood on the Moon (1948) starring Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Preston, with the tag line "Two Rip-Roaring Action Hits!"
John Ford did not get along at all with 19-year-old Shirley Temple, and frequently derided her acting and lack of education.
Film debut of John Agar.
Infrared film was used in outdoor scenes to enhance the fantastic look of the scenery and sky. However, the actors' skin tone looked far too pale on infrared, so they were compelled to wear very dark make-up to compensate.
"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on August 5, 1949 with John Wayne and Ward Bond reprising their film roles.
SPOILER: Thursday's Charge, the painting referenced at the end which falsely depicts Lt. Col. Owen Thursday's last stand as him greatly outnumbered and fighting off the Indians to the best of his abilities, was actually one of the illustrations used to advertise for the film in it's initial release.
* Continuity: When Capt. York talks to Lt. Col. Thursday at the first time, he tries to take off the glove from his left hand. The next shot shows him holding the glove off.
* Continuity: When Lt. Michael O'Rourke and Philadelphia goes riding, they stop for while with a high and peaked boulder on their left-hand side. In the next shot, when they renew to ride, seen away from the other side, the boulder has changed to a large and low one.
* Continuity: During the battle, when York rides toward Thursday, his saber hangs from the saddle. But when he dismounts the saber is held in his waist.
* Errors in geography: When Capt Yorke reports to Col Thursday at the NCO's dance, he says that Cochise and his people have crossed the Rio Bravo back to American soil. This movie takes place in Arizona, there is no river separating Arizona from Mexico. The Rio Bravo (Rio Grande in US) separates only Texas and no other states from Mexico.
* Continuity: When Col. Thursday leads a company "at a striking distance" from a repair patrol lead by Lt. O'Rourke. Sgt. Mulcahey is part of O'Rourke's patrol, but when the action shifts to show Col. Thursday's company in a saber charge against the Apache's there is a clear shot of Sgt. Mulcahey riding next to the flag bearer with his saber drawn. Note: this scene was duplicated from Col. Thursday's final charge against Cochise.
* Anachronisms: Approximately one hour into the film, when Colonel Thursday and Captain York prepare to leave the fort to protect the wagon-team led by 2nd Lieutenant Michael O'Rourke from an anticipated Indian attack, the class-conscious Thursday criticizes York's soldiers for their sloppy uniforms, pointedly telling York himself that York's hat should be creased "like a fedora." The action of "Fort Apache" takes place during the lifetime of Cochise, the famous Apache chief who died in 1874. The word "fedora" does not enter the language until 1882, when the hat worn by Sarah Bernhardt as Princess Fedora in Victorien Sardou's hit play "Fedora" became the rage of the fashion world. Thursday's use of the word is an anachronism.
* Continuity: During the Grand March at the dance, the actors perform the first round (couples) leading with the dance-favored right foot. When they double up to 4s and then 8s, they are leading with the military-favored left foot.
* Continuity: During the dance in the Sergeants Mess, when the dancers are coming round in front of the camera in fours, one of the dancers curtsies, but none of the other women do this. They had already done so in a previous shot and obviously the woman must have been confused.
* Anachronisms: When the new recruits are assembled for the second time (in uniform) the two closest to the camera appear to be wearing denim jeans or Levis. Levis were not available to the U.S. Cavalry at the time of the film's period in history.
* Anachronisms: Throughout the movie a 35-star U.S. flag is carried (5 rows of 7 stars), which was actually used July 4, 1863-July 3, 1865.
* Factual errors: The U.S. Cavalry did not normally carry sabers into the field at the time of the movie.
* Errors in geography: The canyon that Captain York and Sergeant Beaufort ride into to meet with Cochise is supposed to be in Mexico. It is the same canyon that Col. Thursday and his command ride to defeat in the United States.
* Continuity: When Collingwood is replaced by Lt Gates as adjutant, Gates begins to take off his saber. Film cuts to Henry Fonda and back to Gates already seated at the desk.
* Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Cpt. Yorke with Sgt. Beaufort first sets out to see Cochise he simply heads off on his horse in to the desert, taking no water or supplies (there are no packs on the two horses). This must be at least a days journey as the whole of the US Cavalry has failed to find Cochise.
* Errors in geography: When Captain York and Beaufort are riding to meet Cochise they pass a spot on the Colorado River which is on the northern border with Utah not the southern border of Arizona with Mexico.
* Continuity: After Capt. York rides out to rescue Thursday, Thursday asks for and is given York's saber. When we next see York on the ridge with the supplies watching the attack his saber is in his scabbard.
* Anachronisms: (At 1:00:10) The camera pans to the left and to the lower left hand corner coming out from behind the Apache, in the distance (about 1/4 mile), you can see a vehicle racing down the road.
* Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Lt. O'Rouke and Philadelphia return to the Fort after finding the burnt wagon. Capt Collingwood turns back to the command building and calls out for "Lt Thursday". The commanding officer is Lt. Col Thursday (the rank of Lt. Col is addressed as Colonel). Though Lt. Col Thursday's character was also a brevet Maj General during the Civil War allowing the title General to be occasionally used. For Collingwood to address Thursday as Lieutenant, especially by a man who dislikes Thursday, would be very insubordinate.
Arches National Park, Moab, Utah, USA
Corriganville, Ray Corrigan Ranch, Simi Valley, California, USA
Dead Horse Point State Park - State Highway 313, Moab, Utah, USA
Goosenecks State Park - State Highway 316, Mexican Hat, Utah, USA
Goulding's Lodge, Monument Valley, Utah, USA
Goulding's Trading Post, Monument Valley, Utah, USA
Kanab, Utah, USA
Mexican Hat, Utah, USA
Moab, Utah, USA
Monument Valley, Utah, USA
Ray Corrigan Ranch, Simi Valley, California, USA
Selznick International Studios - 9336 Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA
Shafer Outlook, Goosenecks State Park - State Highway 316, Mexican Hat, Utah, USA
Simi Valley, California, USA
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