In Wyoming Territory, army Major Ives and his men are building a temporary camp. The civilian surveyor, Mr. Keats is making preparations for the construction of a large permanent fort. However, the future fort is being erected on Cheyenne lands, in defiance of the treaty. Adam Reed is a self employed scout with friendly ties to the Cheyenne. Upset about the construction of the new fort on their lands, the Cheyenne ask scout Reed to contact Major Ives and deliver their message of grievance to him. The symbolic message consists of a yellow tomahawk as a warning against the building of a new fort in the area. Reed delivers the warning message to Major Ives but he is not taken serious. Major Ives lectures Reed about the need of bringing civilization to the lands that otherwise would go to waste under the savages. Reed retorts that Major Ives' only duty is to escort wagon trains of settlers passing through Cheyenne territory rather than build new forts in violation of the treaty. Reed also...Written by
The Yellow Tomahawk is directed by Lesley Selander and written by Harold Jack Bloom and Richard Alan Simmons. It stars Rory Calhoun, Peggie Castle, Noah Beery Jr., Warner Anderson, Peter Graves, Lee Van Cleef and Rita Moreno. Music is by Les Baxter and cinematography by Gordon Avil.
Scout and tracker Adam Reed (Calhoun) is handed a yellow tomahawk by Cheyenne warrior Fire Knife (Cleef). It is to be given to Major Ives (Anderson) as a proclamation of war, a heed to get women and children out the way prior to attack. Ives stubbornly rejects the threat...
Another splendid 1950s Oater begging to be sought out by fans of the genre, and another reason to laud Calhoun as underrated in his time. Story wise there are familiar tropes, but it's always nice to see a screenplay sympathetic to the Native Americans, where here led by *ahem* Van Cleef they are fed up of encroachment and seek to defend their tribal lands. There is honour in the actions, which in turn solidifies a believable friendship between Fire Knife and Reed.
It's also in parts sexy, which gets its first marker during Reed and Katherine's (Castle) first meeting, god bless water! Ok! So the inevitable coupling is all a bit sudden and trite given an event previously, but the romance factor here does not hinder the depth of the screenplay. Also bonus is that Reed is not some unstoppable muscular hero, he is openly shown to be as fallible in a fight as all of us can be - twice! The makers are not here purely for comic book
There's twists in store as well, one of which is a doozy, while the action as you would expect under Selander is very competent and exciting. You will not forget the massacre sequences, where the eye for an eye - violence begets violence theme is banging the drum, while the presence of Beery and Graves is most welcome. Filmed in Colour but released to TV in black and white, a Western fan can't help lament this fact. For you can see the wonderful Kanab locations begging to be colourized. Shame that.
The messages within my grate on some, but if shrugging that off there is a whole lot for Western supporters to savour here. 7/10
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