Broken Arrow (1950)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Indian Western, Traditional Western, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Jul 21, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Broken Arrow is a good Western, but it's more important historically as one of the early films to attempt a more balanced view of native Americans on film. Seen today, it seems a bit naïve and some of the efforts at fairness come off as heavy-handed, but all in all the basic story and the production are strong enough to offset this. And it's quite impressive to see a film from 1950 in which a white man marries a non-white woman, even if the mores of the time did insist that the marriage had to end tragically. Some will also object to the fact that the leading native American roles are played by white actors, another standard practice at the time. At the time, Jeff Chandler's Cochise was highly praised, with the actor even winning an Academy Award nomination. Today, his performance is less impressive, although this is more due to the stilted characterization demanded of the script than by flaws in Chandler's performance. As might be expected, however, it is James Stewart's performance that really is the one to watch. Freed from the demands placed upon Chandler to represent the nobility of an entire race, Stewart is free to create a living, breathing, thinking, feeling individual, and he does this with the rare grace and talent that is the hallmark of his best work. Delmer Daves directs with a careful hand, and his handling of the action sequences is noteworthy.