Friday, September 6, 2019

Fort Vengeance

I'm continuing to try to get through the backlog of movies I've got on my DVR, and today's selection is Fort Vengeance.

Dick (James Craig) and Carey (Keith Larsen) Ross are a pair of brothers who have been forced to escape north to Canada thanks largely to Carey begin a serial idiot who among other things cheats at poker, constantly making Dick pull Carey's irons out of the fire. As an example of Carey's nastiness, the two wake up to a couple of Indians off in the distance, and Carey shoots him utterly unprovoked! They're going to have to keep running.

Fortunately for them, they wind up at a fort manned by the new Northwest Mounted Police, the forerunners of the Mounties. The two look to enlist in the quasi-military force and while the commander is reluctant at first, he eventually lets the brothers sign up. Dick is a model soldier, while Carey continues to be a jerk.

Canada of the time (late 1870s) is trying to maintain better relations with the various tribal bands than the US had, and there are some tribes that have migrated north from the US. The Blackfoot leader Crowfoot (Morris Ankrum) wants good relations with the Canadians, while Sioux leader Sitting Bull (Michael Granger) has fled the US and is more willing to attack whites, especially after the companion of the Sioux that Carey shot in the opening of the movie sees Carey in the Mounites!

Carey has more nastiness coming, too, when he sees one of the Blackfoot store some beaver pelts in a hidden location, and convinces a trapper to steal them and pass them off as his own! And the payment the trapper gets is to get shot by Carey! Now, thanks to the Production Code you know that Carey is going to have to get his comeuppance, so the question is how it's going to happen.

Fort Vengeance is Saturday matinee entertainment, and not much more. There's nothing demanding here, and probably not much historical accuracy either. (I did, however, go down a rabbit hole of trying to figure out exactly what flag would have been flying in parts of Canada that were not yet provinces but after the 1867 law that made Canada a Dominion within the British Empire. The Maple Leaf flag wasn't used until the mid-1960s; the movie uses a straight Union Jack.) Rita Moreno has an early role, while Reginald Denny has a late role. The color is bad because the movie is in Cinecolor and not Technicolor. Overall it's OK for one watch, but not something I'd particularly revisit.

If you want to judge for yourself, the movie is on DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive Collection, Warner apparently having gotten the rights to the Allied Artists pictures at some point.

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