Broken Arrow

Movie Details

Year1950
DirectorDelmar Daves
Key CastJames Stewart, Jeff Chandler, Debra Paget
MPAA RatingApproved
Film TypeColor
Genre(s)Western, Drama, Romance
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“Broken Arrow” is based on a True Story and Stars James Stewart.

James Stewart stars as Tom Jeffords, a former Union Army soldier who is now responsible for mail delivery in the Arizona Territory in 1862.

After some of his carriers are attacked by the local Chiricahua Apaches, Jeffords decides to take matters into his own hands. He goes on a journey to find the tribe’s chief, Cochise (Jeff Chandler), to see if he can make peace.

Cochise and Jeffords reach an agreement for peace that will allow the mail to go through as long as the white men don’t attack the tribe anymore. While befriending and living with Cochise, Jeffords falls in love with an attractive Indian woman named Sonseeahray (Debra Paget) and he later marries her.

It looks as though Jeffords and Cochise have been successful in bringing about peace, but there are people on both sides who are not happy about the agreement and plan to undermine it.

“Broken Arrow” is credited with changing the depiction of Native Americans in western films because of its sympathetic portrayal of them. It won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Jeff Chandler who plays Cochise.

 

» “Broken Arrow” is a breakthrough western in its depiction of Native Americans. It was the first post-World War II western that sided with Native Americans. Most of the westerns made prior to this time depicted Indians as cold and ruthless savages. In “Broken Arrow” Cochise is depicted as a dignified and valiant leader who has been mistreated by brutal and insensitive whites.

» Many film critics at the time that “Broken Arrow” was released agreed that James Stewart was perfectly cast as Tom Jeffords. Stewart was a major American movie star and he personified what it meant to be all-American and the best of the country. Therefore, in this message western, Stewart could symbolically play the role of an American who wanted to respect and live in peace with the Native American community.

» “Broken Arrow” is based on a novel by Elliott Arnold named Blood Brother that was first released on 1947, three years prior to the making of this film. The book tells the true story of the blood brother relationship between Union Soldier Tom Jeffords and Apache Chief Cochise. The movie, “Broken Arrow” only covers a portion of the story that was written about in the book.

» “Broken Arrow” was filmed in locations where the real story actually took place – The Apache White River Reservation and the Coconino National Forest in Arizona. It was also filmed on location in Lone Pine, California.

» About 375 genuine Apache Native Americans appear in “Broken Arrow.”

» Jay Silverheels, who plays the minor part of Geronimo in this movie, was born to a Mohawk chief on a reservation in Canada. He always played bit parts in movies but ultimately became famous for his role as “Tonto” in “The Lone Ranger” television series.

 

» “Broken Arrow” won a 1951 Golden Globe Award for Best Film in Promoting International Understanding.

» Nominated for a 1951 Golden Globe Award for Best Color Cinematography.

» Nominated for three 1951 Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jeff Chandler), Best Color Cinematography (Ernest Palmer) and Best Screenplay Writing (Albert Maltz)

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Broken Arrow DVD

“Broken Arrow” stars James Stewart as a Tom Jeffords and is based on a true story about a trustful friendship that developed between him and Apache Chief Cochise (Jeff Chandler).

This western received many praises for its positive portrayal of Native Americans.

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