In 1870 Arizona, prospector Tom Jeffords tends to a Chiricahua Apache boy wounded by gunfire. But he is unable to prevent members of the boy’s tribe from massacring a group of white scalp hunters. Still, when asked to scout for a war party against the Apaches, Jeffords refuses and instead convinces the tribe’s chief, Cochise, to allow mail riders to pass through the territory unharmed. The “Indian lover” narrowly escapes a lynching in Tucson, while also receiving Cochise’s blessing to marry the beautiful Apache Sonseeahray. Jeffords even manages to negotiate a peace treaty between Cochise and General Oliver Howard … In an effort to present an authentic picture of the Apaches, the film dispenses with colourful preening and is instead anchored in natural greens and browns. Red, yellow, and blue are used almost exclusively as ceremonial accents on clothing, body painting and feathered ornaments. Vivid colours are also seen occasionally in bandannas used to characterize the wearer – red for a passionate murderer, yellow for Geronimo, the renegade; a cue for the contrast between Geronimo and Cochise, who wears a blue shirt in chromatic harmony with his “blood brother” Jeffords.
by Delmer Daves
with James Stewart, Jeff Chandler, Debra Paget