Saturday, August 1, 2015

White Feather

I only noticed this morning that White Feather is airing tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM on FXM Retro. It's airing again at 4:00 AM Monday, but there's another movie I was intending to do a full-length post on tomorrow. And it turns out that I hadn't done a post on White Feather before; I thought I had after the last time it got a couple of airings on FXM in quick succession.

Robert Wagner stars as Josh Tanner, who at the beginning of the movie is seen riding alone somewhere out in the old West. He comes across the victim of a Cheyenne attack at a river, and the Cheyenne watch him to see if he's got courage. It turns out that Tanner is making his way to the nearby fort. The river is the de facto boundary between the US forces and the native tribe, but the US are currently in negotiations with the various tribes to put them on reservations so that the US can take the land without annihilating the tribes.

Tanner is a surveyor, and his bosses are waiting for that treaty to be signed so that they can get their hands on some of that new land; Josh is being sent out in advance as a surveyor to survey the land for the land company. Not that the folks at the fort like him. The commander, Col. Lindsay (John Lund), is wary of him, while the only place he can find lodging is in the storeroom of the store run by Magruder (Emile Meyer). Magruder has a daughter Ann (Virginia Leith), but apparently she has a past, because her father thinks she's fit for no man and she makes cryptic comments about her past.

Apparently, however, the Cheyenne respect Tanner. They're the only tribe that hasn't signed the treaty to give up hostilities against the Americans, and the Americans are trying to get them to sign the treaty which all the other tribes are going to sign. Chief Broken Hand (Eduard Franz) is beginning to think that perhaps the fight against the Americans with their superior forces is futile, but his son Little Dog (Jeffrey Hunter) is not willing to give up the old ways. Tanner goes into all of this to talk to the Cheyenne.

While there, he meets not only the men in the Indian tribe, but also the chief's daughter Appearing Day (Debra Paget). She falls for him, and the feeling winds up being mutual. Needless to say, this presents all sorts of complications.

White Feather treads over some of the same territory that Fox had covered a couple of years earlier with Broken Arrow. There are also the themes of tradition versus modernity that appear in a whole bunch of movies in all sorts of genres. In White Feather, it all amounts to something that's capable, but which also feels as though we've seen it all before. Still, it's not bad, with the one exception that I wished I could have learned more about Ann, the white woman we kind of expect Tanner to wind up with when the story opens. She clearly has a past, but it's never really gone into. Oh, there's also the other problem of a bunch of white actors playing Indians, but really, there weren't enough prominent Indian actors to play these characters. On the plus side, the cinematography is quite nice if you can catch this in widescreen. I have a distinct memory that when it showed up on FXM a few weeks back, it was in fact in widescreen and not panned-and-scanned like a lot of their Cinemascope movies.

White Feather did get a DVD release at some point in the past, but I think it's out of print based on Amazon's not having new copies regularly available.

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