They Rode West (1954)

84 or 90 mins | Western | November 1954

Director:

Phil Karlson

Producer:

Lewis J. Rachmil

Cinematographer:

Charles "Bud" Lawton

Editor:

Henry Batista

Production Designer:

Cary Odell

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Wood Hawk and White Feather . "The Wood Hawk," which was sometimes spelled as "Woodhawk," was also the title for Leo Katcher's original screen story. According to a Jun 1954 DV news item, Columbia changed the title from White Feather to They Rode West after the MPAA gave title priority to Panoramic Productions, which released a picture called White Feather in 1955.
       A 4 Nov 1952 DV news item announced that Columbia was seeking James Stewart for the leading role and that Vincent Sherman was slated to produce this film. Robert Francis and May Wynn had previously appeared together in the 1954 Columbia picture The Caine Mutiny (see above), and according to modern sources, were a "fan magazine item" at the time. The film's copyright record, which was deposited in Sep 1954, lists a running time of 90 minutes, suggesting that before its Oct 1954 trade showings, the picture was cut by six ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Wood Hawk and White Feather . "The Wood Hawk," which was sometimes spelled as "Woodhawk," was also the title for Leo Katcher's original screen story. According to a Jun 1954 DV news item, Columbia changed the title from White Feather to They Rode West after the MPAA gave title priority to Panoramic Productions, which released a picture called White Feather in 1955.
       A 4 Nov 1952 DV news item announced that Columbia was seeking James Stewart for the leading role and that Vincent Sherman was slated to produce this film. Robert Francis and May Wynn had previously appeared together in the 1954 Columbia picture The Caine Mutiny (see above), and according to modern sources, were a "fan magazine item" at the time. The film's copyright record, which was deposited in Sep 1954, lists a running time of 90 minutes, suggesting that before its Oct 1954 trade showings, the picture was cut by six minutes. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
16 Oct 1954.
---
Daily Variety
4 Nov 1952.
---
Daily Variety
10 Jun 1954.
---
Daily Variety
15 Oct 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Oct 54
p. 14.
Harrison's Reports
16 Oct 54
p. 167.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 1953
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 1953
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 54
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jun 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Oct 54
p. 185.
The Exhibitor
20 Oct 54
pp. 3853-54.
Variety
20 Oct 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Based upon a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"Kiss Me Quick, and Go," words and music by F. Buckley.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Wood Hawk
White Feather
Release Date:
November 1954
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 10 November 1954
Production Date:
17 November--7 December 1953
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
22 September 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4064
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.85
Duration(in mins):
84 or 90
Length(in feet):
7,580
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16879
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In removing a Comanche arrow from an officer's leg, Fort McCullough's drunken Dr. Gibson severs his patient's femoral artery. Capt. Peter Blake watches the young man die and then attacks the doctor, calling him a "murdering butcher." Later, Col. Ethan Walters, commander of the post, complains in a letter to the U.S. Surgeon General that the last three medical officers assigned to the fort have been alcoholic incompetents. Some time later, a train arrives from the East, carrying the colonel's wife, Martha Walters, her pretty and flirtatious niece, Laurie MacKaye, and the fort's new surgeon, Dr. Allen Seward. Distrustful of all physicians, Blake is unrelentingly hostile toward Seward, who is not only very young, but completely inexperienced at handling horses and firearms. During the two-day ride back to the fort, Seward asks Sgt. Creever, an Irish immigrant with a fondness for "rare old Irish whiskey," if the local Kiowa Indians are "tame." Creever explains that although the Kiowa now live on a reservation, they successfully resisted the Cavalry's attempts to get them there for many years. That evening, Creever is knocked unconscious by some Indians, who quietly enter the camp to steal rifles and cartridges. Seward catches a glimpse of them and then attends to Creever. Back at the fort, some of the men show their appreciation for the skill and determination with which Seward treats his patient and cleans up the filthy fort hospital. Blake is unconvinced, however, and at the Kiowa reservation, treats the Indians roughly. He demands that Seward identify the gun thieves, but the doctor does not comply because he is too preoccupied with a young malaria patient, ... +


In removing a Comanche arrow from an officer's leg, Fort McCullough's drunken Dr. Gibson severs his patient's femoral artery. Capt. Peter Blake watches the young man die and then attacks the doctor, calling him a "murdering butcher." Later, Col. Ethan Walters, commander of the post, complains in a letter to the U.S. Surgeon General that the last three medical officers assigned to the fort have been alcoholic incompetents. Some time later, a train arrives from the East, carrying the colonel's wife, Martha Walters, her pretty and flirtatious niece, Laurie MacKaye, and the fort's new surgeon, Dr. Allen Seward. Distrustful of all physicians, Blake is unrelentingly hostile toward Seward, who is not only very young, but completely inexperienced at handling horses and firearms. During the two-day ride back to the fort, Seward asks Sgt. Creever, an Irish immigrant with a fondness for "rare old Irish whiskey," if the local Kiowa Indians are "tame." Creever explains that although the Kiowa now live on a reservation, they successfully resisted the Cavalry's attempts to get them there for many years. That evening, Creever is knocked unconscious by some Indians, who quietly enter the camp to steal rifles and cartridges. Seward catches a glimpse of them and then attends to Creever. Back at the fort, some of the men show their appreciation for the skill and determination with which Seward treats his patient and cleans up the filthy fort hospital. Blake is unconvinced, however, and at the Kiowa reservation, treats the Indians roughly. He demands that Seward identify the gun thieves, but the doctor does not comply because he is too preoccupied with a young malaria patient, the son of Manyi-ten, a white woman married to Chief Satanta's son Red Leaf. Seward addresses Isatai, the medicine man, with respect, thereby earning the trust of the Kiowa healer. Later, Seward learns that the illness has spread. Disregarding orders, Seward again visits the reservation, where Isatai, himself sick, takes the doctor's quinine in order to convince the others of its efficacy. Manyi-ten, who reveals that she was reared by the Kiowa after her white parents drowned, tells Seward that the reservation's water supply is bad, but that up in the hills, the water is clean. Seward advises the tribe to go there, but Blake arrives and orders him back to the fort at gunpoint. At that moment, Red Leaf, who refused to take Seward's medicine, dies. As they are returning to the fort, Blake and Seward are attacked by the gun thieves, who turn out to be Comanches. A Cavalry unit arrives in time to save the two men, but the Comanches get away. The colonel again orders Seward to avoid the reservation, but the doctor refuses to comply, protesting that the Kiowa are ill only because they must live on a poorly situated reservation. Seward is arrested but ordered to join Blake in locating the Comanches. While searching the area, they discover that the Kiowa have left the reservation. Blake's men spot the Comanches, but the Kiowa, heading toward the hills, see that Blake is about to ambush them. In the fierce battle that follows, the Kiowa lend the Comanches their assistance, and many soldiers are killed. The injured troopers, who blame Seward for the Kiowa revolt, refuse his treatments, calling him by the nickname Blake has pinned on him, "Woodhawk," a bird that turns against its own kind. Manyi-ten warns Seward that the Kiowa, now formally allied with the Comanches, are planning a major attack, and shortly afterward, a patrol races into the fort just ahead of a crowd of charging warriors. The soldiers try to defend the fort, but one of the soldiers is ill, and soon half of the men are stricken with malaria. They blame Seward for this, too, but Laurie defends and encourages him. Seward steals away to the Indian camp to persuade the Kiowa to make peace, but Blake, assuming the doctor is a traitor, hides behind a tree and fires at him. By mistake, the captain hits Spotted Wolf, Satanta's only surviving son and Manyi-ten's new husband. Seward returns to the fort with an ultimatum from the Indians: Either let Seward use the hospital to operate on Spotted Wolf or face immediate attack by the allied Kiowa and Comanche tribes. Col. Walters admits the doctor, his patient, and the two Indian chiefs, and then waits worriedly while Seward operates. Finally, the chiefs emerge from the hospital, and Satanta praises Seward not only for having saved his son, but for treating the Indians as brothers. Col. Waters promises to help move the Kiowa to the high country, and the men shake hands. Seward takes Laurie's arm, and the couple returns to the hospital. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.