Oh! Susanna (1951)

90 mins | Western | 28 March 1951

Director:

Joseph I. Kane

Cinematographer:

Jack Marta

Editor:

Arthur Roberts

Production Designer:

Frank Arrigo

Production Company:

Republic Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of the film were The Black Hills and The Golden Tide . The NYT review noted that "the mystery of the title, Oh! Susanna , is never explained." According to a May 1950 HR news items, portions of the film were shot on location at Strawberry Valley, UT. The young actress Louise Kane was the daughter of associate producer-director Joseph Kane. As noted in an Aug 1950 HR news item, actor Chill Wills, who portrayed "Sgt. Barhydt," also served as narrator. ... More Less

The working titles of the film were The Black Hills and The Golden Tide . The NYT review noted that "the mystery of the title, Oh! Susanna , is never explained." According to a May 1950 HR news items, portions of the film were shot on location at Strawberry Valley, UT. The young actress Louise Kane was the daughter of associate producer-director Joseph Kane. As noted in an Aug 1950 HR news item, actor Chill Wills, who portrayed "Sgt. Barhydt," also served as narrator. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Mar 1951.
---
Daily Variety
9 Mar 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Mar 51
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
17 Mar 51
p. 42.
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 1950
p. 1, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 1950.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 50
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1950.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1950
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 50
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 1950
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 1950
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 1950
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 1950
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1951.
---
Los Angeles Daily News
4 Apr 1951.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Apr 1951.
---
Motion Picture Daily
12 Mar 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 Mar 51
p. 758.
New York Times
30 Mar 51
p. 28.
The Exhibitor
14 Mar 51
p. 3038.
Variety
14 Mar 51
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Regular Army, Oh," words and music by Ed Harrigan
"Is Someone Lonely," words and music by Jack Elliott
"Oh! Susanna," words and music by Stephen Foster.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Black Hills
The Golden Tide
Release Date:
28 March 1951
Production Date:
31 May--24 June 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Republic Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 March 1951
Copyright Number:
LP829
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
Trucolor
Duration(in mins):
90
Length(in feet):
8,104
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14734
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1875 in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory, which has been ceded by a treaty to its original owners, the Sioux Nation, the discovery of gold brings "rushers," who develop a hatred for the U.S. Cavalry soldiers assigned to enforce the treaty and keep them off Sioux land. After a company of misfits commanded by Capt. Web Calhoun comes across a dead dog with an arrow through its throat, they chase a family of rushers, the Ledbetters, in a wagon nearby. After telling them that Indians killed their dog as a warning, Calhoun orders them to leave. At the town of Dawson, frustrated rushers taunt the cavalry with calls of "Indian lover." Calhoun finds his ex-sweetheart, Lia Wilson, in the company of his commanding officer, Col. Lloyd Unger. Disdainful of Calhoun's West Point training, Unger kisses Lia in front of him. Angered by their rivalry, Lia, who works as a "hostess" for saloon owner Ira Jordan, says she is no one's personal property. Lia followed Calhoun from the South to the frontier after he volunteered for duty there so he would not have to fight his own people in the Civil War. Unger, Calhoun believes, received his commission as commander of the fort because he did favors for politicians who are against the treaty, believing it stops the "progress" of the nation on its way to acquire all the land to the Pacific Ocean. At the saloon, Calhoun finds that Jordan has a cache of Henry repeating rifles and warns him that some have gotten to the Sioux. Jordan admits that he would like to see an Indian war, because ... +


In 1875 in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory, which has been ceded by a treaty to its original owners, the Sioux Nation, the discovery of gold brings "rushers," who develop a hatred for the U.S. Cavalry soldiers assigned to enforce the treaty and keep them off Sioux land. After a company of misfits commanded by Capt. Web Calhoun comes across a dead dog with an arrow through its throat, they chase a family of rushers, the Ledbetters, in a wagon nearby. After telling them that Indians killed their dog as a warning, Calhoun orders them to leave. At the town of Dawson, frustrated rushers taunt the cavalry with calls of "Indian lover." Calhoun finds his ex-sweetheart, Lia Wilson, in the company of his commanding officer, Col. Lloyd Unger. Disdainful of Calhoun's West Point training, Unger kisses Lia in front of him. Angered by their rivalry, Lia, who works as a "hostess" for saloon owner Ira Jordan, says she is no one's personal property. Lia followed Calhoun from the South to the frontier after he volunteered for duty there so he would not have to fight his own people in the Civil War. Unger, Calhoun believes, received his commission as commander of the fort because he did favors for politicians who are against the treaty, believing it stops the "progress" of the nation on its way to acquire all the land to the Pacific Ocean. At the saloon, Calhoun finds that Jordan has a cache of Henry repeating rifles and warns him that some have gotten to the Sioux. Jordan admits that he would like to see an Indian war, because after the Sioux are defeated, his business will increase with more rushers swarming into the area. The next day, Sgt. Barhydt finds the body of ex-scout Charlie Grass, who was three-fourths Indian, hanging upside-down in a tree. The alcoholic Grass, who criticized Calhoun's policy of protecting Sioux lands, was killed, Barhydt surmises, because he betrayed his own people. When Unger learns about the murder, he orders a combat patrol to be readied. Calhoun, however, contends that the Sioux have not violated the treaty because Grass had resigned the previous night, so was no longer working for the government, and Unger angrily rescinds his order. Men whom Calhoun believes to be connected with Jordan pursue and shoot at his troop in the hills. In town, he accuses Jordan of attempted murder, but has no proof. At a dance for newly arrived Lt. Cutter, Jordan tells Unger that the Sioux have begun to attack isolated ranchers east of the boundary line, claiming that Pactola, the Sioux chief, is retaliating for settlers coming into the hills. He suggests, though, that Unger wait before attacking the Sioux. When the women at the dance begin to leave, offended by Lia's presence, Unger takes her back to her tent, where she slaps him when he suggests they have a drink together, saying he can have the drink with her only at Jordan's. After he leaves, she finds Calhoun in the tent, and although they kiss, he tells her he doesn't want to see her again. When the patrol finds a ranch burned down and Unger learns that the rancher's family was massacred, he vows to track down the "Redsticks" responsible. Calhoun says that he has seen smoke signals indicating that the Sioux are gathering inside the hills, not outside, and believes the attack is a decoy devised by Jordan. Unger, however, orders Calhoun to guard the fort while he attacks the Sioux. After the cavalry leave, Lia tells Calhoun that a wagon train loaded with supplies and repeating rifles was sent out by Jordan, who is trying to provoke a war. Lia promises to be there for him if he is court-martialled for disobeying orders, and Calhoun leaves the fort and rides off with his troop for the hills. They hear the sound of repeating rifles and chase down the Ledbetters, who admit that they fired on the Indians first. Meanwhile, Unger and Cutter find that an "Indian" wounded by the Ledbetters is really a white man sent by Jordan, and Unger realizes that Calhoun was right. Back at the fort, as the Sioux battle those left inside, Calhoun and his men charge through and enter. He castigates Jordan and has Lia lead the women and children to the magazine where the gunpowder is kept. When the women refuse to follow her, she convinces them by saying that whatever she has been through will seem "delicate" compared to their treatment if they are captured by "savages." When the Indians are about to break through the gates, Calhoun gives orders to blast the magazine, but the Sioux stop, and he rides out to meet with Pactola, who recognizes him as the one white who has not forgotten the treaty. Pactola allows the people in the fort to leave for the East. The Indians take over the fort, while Calhoun leads the people past the scene of the massacre of Unger and his men. Unger, barely alive, tells Calhoun to keep fighting "your way" before he dies. Subsequently, Calhoun becomes a colonel, fighting at Powder River, Warbonnet, Wounded Knee and White Clay Creek. If he had been listened to, however, the deaths of one thousand men would have been prevented. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.