The soldiers at Fort Apache may disagree with the tactics of their glory-seeking new commander. But to a man, they're duty-bound to obey - even when it means almost certain disaster. John Wayne, Henry Fonda and many famili... more »ar supporting players from master director John Ford's "stock company" saddle up for the first film in the director's famed cavalry trilogy (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande are the others). Roughhouse camaraderie, sentimental vignettes of frontier life, massive action sequences staged in Monument Valley - all are part of Fort Apache. So is Ford's exploration of the West's darker side. Themes of justice, heroism and honor that Ford would revisit in later Westerns are given rein in this moving, thought-provoking film that, even as it salutes a legend, gives reasons to question it. DVD Features:
"This John Ford classic has all the requirements for a great film. While a bit sappy at times with the old army Irish types, Victor Mclaughlin got a second life with these films, there is still enough here to engage the intellect. Shirely Temple is interesting to see grown up. Her acting style certainly did not evolve much over the years.
What makes this film great are Fonda and Wayne, both playing roles opposite to their norm. Fonda is wonderfully arrogant and yet vulnerable at the same time. Wayne is humble and second fiddle for a change, he comes off well being the wiser, disgruntled subordinate. What really makes this film is the scenry an production quality. John Ford was painstakingly accurate with unifroms, equippment and gear. He provides a believeable image of army life, with all its pettiness and sense of honor. Everything is accurate down to the various bugle calls and the troop commands issued to the men. While there are obvious comparisons to Custer, what makes this film interesting is the sheer study of military incompetence. Fonda's character is desperate to make a name for himself, and he sacrefices his command in order to do so. The battle scenes are exciting to watch, even the old fashion carriage chase with the Indians running about is well done. In the end what is the message of this film? There probably isn't any exactly. Fonda's character creates a military disaster, pure and simple, yet we see that Wayne is willing to carry on this legacy of heroism to inspire the regiment in its continued campaigns against the hostiles. Here we see how myths are made from the most unlikely sources. A fine film all around, and probably the best of Ford's cavalry epics."
Best of the Cavalry Trilogy?
Roger Kennedy | 03/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first, and in my opinion, the best of John Ford's so-called Cavarly Trilogy. "Fort Apache" is Ford's thinly veiled re-telling of the Custer-Little Bighorn legend. A subject that fascinated Ford, but he didn't want to be hemmed in by the history so he completely changed the names and locations so he could tell the story the way he wanted to tell it.Henry Fonda plays a Custer-like Colonel who has seen his career's meteoric rise during the Civil War end with peacetime and an assignment to a frontier outpost. He resents this, and looks for an opportunity to earn fame and glory. He finds this opportunity at the expense of the Apaches who have left their reservation for good reasons. If he can defeat the Apaches then his career will certainly be boosted. Fonda's Colonel Thursday is a brave and competent officer, who does recognize some of the injustice and indignity that the reservation system has imposed upon the Apaches, but his lust for glory blinds him to everything in the end.John Wayne plays the competent, experienced second in command who clashes repeatedly with his superior. The film also features a love interest between a grown-up Shirley Temple and her then real-life husband John Agar. Being a Ford movie there is plenty of comic relief from various Irish NCO's, and romanticized vignettes of frontier cavalry life."
Intelligent Landmark Western Of True Classic Status
Simon Davis | 12/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The western genre has been probably one of the most frequently used in Hollywood filmmaking , at least until fairly recent times. In every decade there have been countless mediocre efforts and a few that have come down to us as true classics of the genre, whether it be for their great action sequences, good character studies or spectacular scenery. John Ford's 1948 "Fort Apache" is I believe one that belongs in the later category boasting excellence in all the three areas mentioned. The first installment in Ford's deservedly classic cavalry trilogy "Fort Apache", is strong on interesting character studies while never sacrificing the exciting action element which makes for a thrilling western. The teaming of veterans John Wayne and Henry Fonda in characters that have personalites that are bound to collide makes for much of the fine dramatic meat of this story. The film is also a standout in this genre for presenting a sympathetic and dignified image of the Indian races depicted in the story which helps give the film a certain uniqueness for western efforts from this period in Hollywood history.
The conflict element central to this entire story is introduced very quickly when we see Col. Owen Thursday (Henry Fonda), reluctantly arriving at Fort Apache to take up command of this outpost against his will. He has with him his young daughter Philadelphia (Shirley Temple), and almost before he is settled into his new home he comes into opposition with the local Captain York (John Wayne). York has extensive knowledge of the region and by his fairness and respectful dealings has earned the trust of the Indian population on the reservation however he immediately clashes with the unbending and unrealistic views that Col. Thursday has about outpost discipline and more importantly in the handling of the native population. Good men like Capt. Collingwood (George O'Brien), find themselves relieved of their formerly held posts and Col. Thursday is soon even in conflict with his daughter when she begins a romance with the dashing young 2nd Lt. Michael O'Rourke (John Agar), a man who in Col. Thursday's belief is way below her social station in life. The simmering conflicts at the fort reach a head when it is learnt that the local Indian population have moved out of their agreed reservation and after Capt. York meets with the Indian leader Cochise (Miguel Inclan), and agrees to further peaceful talks, he finds his own reputation on the line when Col. Thursday refuses to be dictated to by the Indians and is prepared to use force if necessary to get them back on the reservation. When an agreement can't be reached even after the real reason why the Indians left the reservation is discovered revealing vast exploitation of the native population by greedy men at the outpost store Col. Thursday, used to military glory sees his opportunity for further praise in his uncompromising handling of the Indians who he regards simply as rebels despite their wish for peace. Insulting the Indian leaders despite their efforts to stay within the agreed treaty it then seems that war is inevitable. Disaster strikes when however when refusing Capt. York's sound advice on battle strategies in this region Col. Thursday leads a whole battalion into a terrible ambush which sees all of the men killed with he also becoming a victim of his own inability to understand both the Indians and his own men.
Westerns as a rule are not renowned for their strong character studies or examinations of Indian and white men's belief about living together however John Ford has achieved that with this excellent examination of all the conflicting attitudes that made up life in the early west frontier. The performances delivered by both Henry Fonda and John Wayne are among their best with Fonda excelling as the type of leader we love to hate, a man driven by his past achievements who is determined to follow those despite what others say. John Wayne working with his favourite director here again delivers a very appealing performance as the decent Captain who finds all his years of experience in warfare and importantly in developing the trust of the Indians coming to naught in the face of Capt. York's rigid set of beliefs. Both men square off against each other in a highly effective manner and add the main dramatic element to the story giving "Fort Apache", alot of its memorable quality. The supporting players are also first rate. "Fort Apache", provides us with a glimpse of the teenage Shirley Temple long after her reign as Hollywood's greatest child star and she provides the typical romantic element here teaming with real life future husband John Agar in his film debut. Pedro Armendariz, Victor McLaglen and especially Ward Bond in his touching performance as Sgt. Maj. O'Rourke all add their expertise to their individual scenes and help make "Fort Apache", a story rich with solid large and small characterisations. Of course being a John Ford western the visuals are of the greatest importance and Ford's favourite location of Monument Valley is well utilised in the story as a magnificent backdrop to the proceedings. The films many great action sequences that display some excellent stunt work also go a long way towards earning this film its classic status with the famous shoot out at the climax where Col. Thursday and his men perish being rarely equalled for excitment and tragedy.
Even if you are not a great western fan there is much to enjoy in "Fort Apache". The main characters are not cardboard cut outs and the main conflicts in the story between firstly the characters played by Henry Fonda and John Wayne and in the wider one between the white men and the Indians are not provided with easy solutions and always try to show both sides of the conflict. It is this lack of everything being depicted as black and white as is so often seen in westerns that makes "Fort Apache", such interesting viewing and which deservedly earns it the accolade of being a great classic of this genre, enjoy!
The 1st of John Ford's Calvary Trilogy
Simon Davis | 04/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An all-star cast in a John Ford Classic. Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Shirley Temple, Ward Bond, Victor MacLaglen all give fine performances. The story centers on Fonda's character being assigned to Fort Apache against his will. He takes his anger out on the Indians with a result loosely based on Gen. Custer at Little Big Horn. The rest of the movie has all the elements that have made John Ford famous, action, adventure, humor, romance, and the spectacular scenery of Monument Valley."
"IF YOU SAW THEM, THEY WEREN'T APACHE,"
Gregory Saffady | Michigan | 07/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"is arguably one of The Duke's best lines (Michael Herr referenced it in his Vietnam War best seller DISPATCHES, making it a prophecy). John Ford's cavalry trilogy is a great body of American film, all three works have their individual moments that distingush their own lasting perfection. FORT APACHE has the classic Ford/Wayne elements: action, dialogue, a great supporting cast both Ford and Wayne knew how to play (Ward Bond, Victor McLaglen). Henry Fonda is brilliant as the pompous, ego maniacal Colonel Thursday and Victor McLaglen's drunken buffonery is classic. FORT APACHE is a ride into film greatness."