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Cheyenne Autumn
Cheyenne Autumn
Actors: Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, Karl Malden, Sal Mineo, Dolores del Rio
Director: John Ford
Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2007     2hr 34min

This last Western from director John Ford ranks as one of his most ambitious and moving works. Ford outfits his Trail-of-Tears-like saga with a strong cast, stunning cinematography by long-time collaborator William Clothie...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, Karl Malden, Sal Mineo, Dolores del Rio
Director: John Ford
Creators: William H. Clothier, John Ford, David Hawkins, Bernard Smith, Howard Fast, James R. Webb, Mari Sandoz
Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/13/2007
Original Release Date: 10/03/1964
Theatrical Release Date: 10/03/1964
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 2hr 34min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 11
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

John Ford's attempt at making history...
Patrick Selitrenny | Switzerland a.k.a. Helvetia Felix | 07/01/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Granted, it might not be a glorious John Ford movie as his earlier works, but in this one attempt one might recognize the soul of the director, a troubled soul.He had always depicted the native Americans as being merely a detail in American history, and now, having reached the sunset and the winter of his own life - and probably some wisdom as well, he comes out in the open and seems to ask for forgiveness.It is a touching attempt at redemption and as such it should be considered. Ford was deeply religious, even though he never openly admitted it and here it shows.Of course it is at times naive, at times superficial and at times kitsch, but this is also the the true and touching opening of an old man who has realized that his own world has changed and the views of the people have changed.He is desperately trying to get in touch and in synchrony with this new world and admits the faults and mistakes that some of his forefathers have committed against defenseless and hopeless people.This movie is probably more his own introspection before his death and at the same time is the heritage he wanted to leave us before his demise.This is why I wouldn't be so harsh as to trash it so swiftly.Even though somewhat naive in its views, the story of the Lakota/Dakota tribes being deported and so shamelessly persecuted by the American Government in those far away days is absolutely true.It is a piece of American history that so many Americans would like to see being forgotten but occasionally pops up to hunt us as a reminder that any civilization can produce unspeakable horrors, especially when it feels socially superior.What I would mostly criticize is the fact that all American native parts were cast with other minorities, especially of hispanic origin (Gilbert Roland and Ricardo Montalban, two of the best and finest actors of Latin origin who, unfortunately for those years, were so many times misused and typecast).But all this does not come as a surprise if one consider that certain racial practices were still in effect in those days. We are four years away from 1968 and Martin Luther King and the road to parity for American natives will be even longer than that...The film is slow paced on purpose, in order for the audience to absorb the atrocity of the situation in which the American natives, in this case the Cheyennes, are forced to live.The U.S. Government is not depicted as one homogeneous force as it may have been later on in history, but rather as a bunch of newly arrived groups of Europeans who intend to take a foothold on the American Continent in order to pursue an all out colonization of the Land.
A very similar situation to that of the British confronted with the Zulus in South Africa.Right or wrong is not contemplated in this movie. History here is what it was, crude and cruel. It's the affirmation of one Society over another. People don't count...But this is exactly where this movie is highly revealing: the people involved. History is just a poor excuse to handle people as cattle.It's the interior conflicts of the people that appear in this work that make it so worthwhile. Whites, as well as American natives, seem uncomfortable with the situation at hand and struggle uneasily against the winds of Power.A Power always felt but never seen. An Evil force that drives people to do what they do because they are meant to do it. But this evil force is never clearly seen and never takes a firm foothold in one or more people.This is why everything in this movie seems to be at once so confused and at the same time so desperate. The movie asks who these people really are and what they really want from life, but also shows us that they all are pawns in this immense chess game and no one can really do what he would like to do.Here, John Ford's image of his interior struggle taking place is very clearly recognizable. It's as if he's trying to tell us that he has always tried to do what was right but never really what he truly wanted to do... and that he was probably sorry never to be able to unchain himself from the system.The true message to us and the legacy he is trying to convey is not to allow others to take us as hostages but rather to fight such people with all our strength because otherwise we might land up as slaves.In as much, the movie is revolutionary for its times. In other words this is a multilayered work of art that is well worth watching in its subtle net of subplots that hide messages reserved to those who can read them.It's much less a Western than a History lesson, but so much more a last "J'accuse" from the author of the most memorable Westerns ever made and the most controversial director of his times.If you know how to read John Ford, then this movie will reveal him to you like none other before.
If you're out for another conventional John Ford movie than this is certainly not it.It's up to you, but remember, great directors reveal themselves in movies that are usually atypical from their regular genres or themes."
Northern Cheyenne rates this movie!
Judith Kovar | Hardin, IL. United States | 07/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I bought this vcr tape a few months ago. Sure the movie is NOT all correct for Cheyenne dress and habits but John Ford did bring the Cheyenne's plight and disgraceful treatment to the big screen. I view the movie at least once a month and never get tired of it. Excellent movie and beautiful scenes in the movie. Wish John Ford was alive to direct another such movie!
This Northern Cheyenne give this movie 5 stars and a thumbs up."
The picture was handsome, shot in Monument Valley and Moab,
Roberto Frangie | Leon, Gto. Mexico | 11/06/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"John Ford dealt with one of the long-lasting Indian tragedies in his "Cheyenne Autumn," the wasting away of a tribe in an uncongenial pen called a reservation and its efforts to take matters into its own hands...

Indians, to use a modern term, had become redundant; that was their true tragedy... They were unwanted in what the whites wanted to make of the West and so they were 'placed' and disposed of, thereby suffering the usual 'superfluous' maladies of physical and moral debilitation... Here they are portrayed as the victims of insensitive herding...

The Cheyennes--1,500 miles away in Oklahoma from their Yellowstone home--had seen their numbers depleted from one thousand to less than three hundred in the course of a disease-ridden year... With these sorts of statistics it was as much a matter of simple logic as an act of desperation when they upped and left one night, bound on foot for their old hunting grounds, probably knowing full well that the cavalry would make them hurry, as they did, all the way... An epic in real life. Would the master epic-maker match it? In purely visual terms the answer was 'yes'. Ford vivid1y depicted the starvation and disease plaguing the Cheyenne trek... But somehow Ford never wholly got to the heart of the matter although the intent was there and at times this is a most impressive and moving film...

Carroll Baker appears as a Quaker teacher who tries in vain to he1p the unfortunate migrants... Richard Widmark is the army captain who is as sympathetic as uniform allows, and Arthur Kennedy is razor-sharp in his impersonation of Doc Holliday, who, with Stewart's Earp, is drafted into leading a posse against the Indians... Stewart deliberately re-routes them and the Indians get away... Edward G. Robinson plays a humane and kindly Secretary of the Interior who helps bail out the unlucky Cheyenne.

Uneven, disjointed, but worth watching...
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 02/10/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is John Ford's last Western, and a film in which he tries to make amends for (in some films) his rather shabby treatment of Native Americans. It is not a typical Ford Western, though. Yes, it's filmed in Monumental Valley, and it boasts some of the greatest cinemtography ever in a Ford film. Yet, it seems rambling, even disjointed at times. It is Ford's longest work (clocking in at, for Ford at least, a long 158 minutes), and it feels like it could have used a little editing. There isn't much humour in it, except for the Dodge City episode, which is awkwardly inserted into the middle of the film. It really seems out of place because the rest of the film is very serious with very little comic relief included. But the episode itself is actually one of Ford's funniest scenes EVER. The banter between James Stewart, Burt Kennedy, John Carradine, and Elizabeth Allen is hilarious. The scene was originally cut out of the initial theatrical version, but then later restored for VHS/DVD releases. Ford seems to be trying something new here, but just not getting it right. This film is missing the poetry that is in many of his other Westerns. The film comes across as rather preachy, ponderous, and lumbering (even though the subject matter is definitely important). Tag Gallagher's book on Ford, he states that Ford wanted to cast actual Native Americans in the roles of Montalban, Mineo, and Roland, treating them like a Greek Chorus unable to communicate with the whites. This idea was rejected by the producers of the film. He reportedly didn't care for Alex North's score, either. Ford films always had a more traditional, folk tinged score that was used sparingly throughout his films. North's score underscores almost every scene, here. It is nice, however, to see this film widescreen. Before, it was only available in wretched, pan and scan versions, which absolutely butchered Ford's compositions. Here we get to see the spectacular photography by William Clothier, who shot this film in 70mm. Ford only completed one more feature film after this (the underrated Seven Women), and this ended up being his final Western. It's worth watching, for sure (especially if you're a Ford admirer), but it is not one of his better films."