Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The late cinema historian William K. Everson once wrote an article titled "Movies Out of Thin Air", referring to films that were comprised almost exclusively of stock footage from earlier productions. A prime example of this sort of patchwork entertainment is the 1939 Paramount production Geronimo, which though advertised and distributed as an "A" picture was largely and economically cobbled together from existing film vignettes. Essentially a western remake of Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), the film concentrates on the rocky relationship between crusty Cavalry general Steele (Ralph Morgan) and his shavetail lieutenant son (Richard Cromwell). The boy is taken under the wing of kindly Captain Starrett (Preston Foster), who is also occupied with bringing renegade Indian warrior Geronimo (played by Native American actor Chief Thundercloud, unbilled despite his title-character status) to justice. The fly in the ointment is treacherous gunrunner Gillespie (delightfully played as a snivelling coward by Gene Lockhart) who for a price agrees to help Geronimo decimate the local white population. Nominal heroine Ellen Drew has one of the least demanding assignments in movie history, spending two-thirds of the film in a coma after being injured in a stagecoach accident! Among the previous Paramount epics represented in Geronimo via stock footage are Frank Lloyd's Wells Fargo and Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman.
Native-American, ambush, AWOL (Absent Without Leave), battle [war], capture, cavalry, chief, commander, death, father, General, generation-gap, group, honor [recognition], Indian (Native-American)-chief, invasion, island, leader, lieutenant, medal, officer, outpost, President, ranger [military], rescue, savage, shoot-out, slaughter, son, survivor, torture, troops, warning, wound [injury]