Siege at Red River (1954)

85-87 mins | Drama | April 1954

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Arapaho Trail and Gatling Gun . According to a 10 Oct 1952 HR news item, Dale Robertson was originally scheduled for the lead. Tyrone Power was later scheduled to star. Other news items list Jean Peters and Peggy Maley as a possible co-stars. Van Johnson was borrowed from M-G-M for the production, and writer Sydney Boehm was loaned from Paramount. Studio records credit Irving Wallace with a revised script and Leo Townsend with a continuity, but it is not known if any of their material was used in the final film. Location shooting was done at Moab, UT and Durango, CO, and some filming was shot at the RKO-Pathé lot. It is possible that the 2d unit assistant director, listed in contemporary sources as "Harbert Glaser," is actually Herbert Glazer .
       In an inter-office memo to Twentieth Century-Fox production head Darryl Zanuck, included in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Goldstein described the Gatling gun as "America's first machine gun" and "the atom bomb of a century ago." The portrayal of the Indians in the film was discussed during a conference between Goldstein and Zanuck: "It was decided to make them a renegade gang of Indians, rather than a 'legitimate' tribe of Sioux. This is an outlaw band of Indians who prey even on their own people.... These people are not fighting for their land or for their rights or anything noble like that....They steal from both the North and the South. They are taking full advantage of the fact that the North and the South are at ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Arapaho Trail and Gatling Gun . According to a 10 Oct 1952 HR news item, Dale Robertson was originally scheduled for the lead. Tyrone Power was later scheduled to star. Other news items list Jean Peters and Peggy Maley as a possible co-stars. Van Johnson was borrowed from M-G-M for the production, and writer Sydney Boehm was loaned from Paramount. Studio records credit Irving Wallace with a revised script and Leo Townsend with a continuity, but it is not known if any of their material was used in the final film. Location shooting was done at Moab, UT and Durango, CO, and some filming was shot at the RKO-Pathé lot. It is possible that the 2d unit assistant director, listed in contemporary sources as "Harbert Glaser," is actually Herbert Glazer .
       In an inter-office memo to Twentieth Century-Fox production head Darryl Zanuck, included in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Goldstein described the Gatling gun as "America's first machine gun" and "the atom bomb of a century ago." The portrayal of the Indians in the film was discussed during a conference between Goldstein and Zanuck: "It was decided to make them a renegade gang of Indians, rather than a 'legitimate' tribe of Sioux. This is an outlaw band of Indians who prey even on their own people.... These people are not fighting for their land or for their rights or anything noble like that....They steal from both the North and the South. They are taking full advantage of the fact that the North and the South are at war with one another." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Mar 1954.
---
Daily Variety
24 Oct 1952.
---
Daily Variety
12 Dec 1952.
---
Daily Variety
19 Mar 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Apr 54
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
27 Mar 54
p. 51.
Hollywood Citizen-News
13 May 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Oct 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 1953
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 1953
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 1953
p. 26.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 1953
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 54
p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News
13 May 1954.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
13 May 1954.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Oct 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Dec 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Jul 1953.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 May 1954.
---
Motion Picture Daily
19 Mar 1954.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
27 Mar 54
pp. 2237-38.
New York Times
3 Apr 54
p. 19.
New York Times
4 Jul 1954.
---
The Exhibitor
7 Apr 54
p. 3728.
Time
12 Apr 1954.
---
Variety
24 Mar 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d unit, asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam tech
2d unit, 1st cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Ed supv
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Drapery
Drapery
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
Ward man
Ward girl
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Eff man
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Props
Asst props
Casting dir
Casting asst
Casting asst
Tech adv
2d unit, scr supv
Stock man
First-aid man
Auditor
STAND INS
Stunt double for Van Johnson
Stunt man--"Mail wagon"
Stunt double for Richard Boone
Stunt man--"Lumber wagon"
Stunt man--"Lumber wagon"
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"Tapioca," lyrics by Ken Darby, music by Lionel Newman.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Arapaho Trail
Gatling Gun
Release Date:
April 1954
Premiere Information:
Omaha, NE opening: 22 March 1954
New Orleans opening: 27 March 1954
New York opening: 2 April 1954
Production Date:
8 September--5 October 1953 at RKO-Pathé Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
18 February 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4050
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
85-87
Length(in feet):
7,773
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16772
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In November 1864, at Greensburg, Ohio, a Gatling gun, on its way by train to be tested by the Union army, is stolen by Confederates, who hope to use it to change the course of the war. Boxes containing the parts of the gun, which fires 250 shots per minute, are hidden in the piano of a traveling medicine show wagon driven west by Capt. James S. Simmons, of the Georgia volunteers, masquerading as Jim Farraday, a traveling salesman from Boston, and his cohort Benjy, really Sgt. Benjamin Guderman of Jim's unit. As they perform the code song "Tapioca" in the towns they visit, they receive messages from fellow conspirators with instructions on where to go next. Upon arriving at a stream in the West, they find Nora Curtis, a Yankee nurse to whom they are both attracted, in a hospital wagon stuck in the water. Nora is trying to take her patient, an Indian woman named Lukoa, to Nora's home in Baxter Springs, where she keeps one room as a hospital ward. Nora explains that Lukoa's husband cannot join them, as the Union army has made it a hanging offense for an Indian to cross the river because Confederates, whom she despises, have taught rebellion to the Indians so they will fight the Union army. Jim and Benjy take the women to Baxter Springs, but although Nora is attracted to Jim, when he says he has hired a substitute to fight in the war, she begins to snub him. When Jim and Benjy sing "Tapioca" in Baxter Springs, shopkeeper Anderson Smith writes a message to give them, but he swallows it when ... +


In November 1864, at Greensburg, Ohio, a Gatling gun, on its way by train to be tested by the Union army, is stolen by Confederates, who hope to use it to change the course of the war. Boxes containing the parts of the gun, which fires 250 shots per minute, are hidden in the piano of a traveling medicine show wagon driven west by Capt. James S. Simmons, of the Georgia volunteers, masquerading as Jim Farraday, a traveling salesman from Boston, and his cohort Benjy, really Sgt. Benjamin Guderman of Jim's unit. As they perform the code song "Tapioca" in the towns they visit, they receive messages from fellow conspirators with instructions on where to go next. Upon arriving at a stream in the West, they find Nora Curtis, a Yankee nurse to whom they are both attracted, in a hospital wagon stuck in the water. Nora is trying to take her patient, an Indian woman named Lukoa, to Nora's home in Baxter Springs, where she keeps one room as a hospital ward. Nora explains that Lukoa's husband cannot join them, as the Union army has made it a hanging offense for an Indian to cross the river because Confederates, whom she despises, have taught rebellion to the Indians so they will fight the Union army. Jim and Benjy take the women to Baxter Springs, but although Nora is attracted to Jim, when he says he has hired a substitute to fight in the war, she begins to snub him. When Jim and Benjy sing "Tapioca" in Baxter Springs, shopkeeper Anderson Smith writes a message to give them, but he swallows it when Union soldiers, led by Pinkerton detective Frank Kelso, ride into town in search of the stolen Gatling gun. The soldiers raid Smith's store, and he wounds Kelso before he is shot to death. Suspecting Jim, Kelso, after Nora nurses him back to health, sends a telegram to the Boston Pinkerton office and searches the medicine wagon, but does not find the Gatling gun. After Jim hears a dance hall girl sing the "Tapioca" song, he learns that her new beau, Brett Manning, instructed her to sing it. Manning, who mistreats the girl, tells Jim that he worked for Smith bringing horses through Indian territory for the Confederate forces, but says he is not from the South and has only helped them for the money. He offers to take Jim and the gun through Union lines and they agree on a price. After learning that all vehicles leaving town will be searched, Jim and Benjy hide the gun in Nora's hospital wagon, aware that she plans to take Lukoa and her newborn baby back to her village. The next day, Jim's scheme works, as the baby's cries and Nora's snippiness lead the sheriff to let her go without a thorough search. Jim sends Benjy and Manning to catch up to the wagon and plans to rendezvous with them the next day. After Benjy and Manning stop Nora's wagon, Manning shoots and kills Benjy and has Nora drive to Lukoa's village, where he plans to sell the gun to Chief Yellow Hawk. Jim finds his friend's body and buries him, then pursues the hospital wagon on horseback. Kelso, upon receiving word from Boston that the real Jim Farraday was killed in battle two years ago, leads soldiers in pursuit of Jim. After Manning convinces Yellow Hawk that the gun will give his tribe the strength of ten tribes, Yellow Hawk buys it, then hires Manning to operate the gun in an attack on nearby Fort Smith with many other tribes that he hopes to lead. Jim arrives at the Indian village after the warriors have left. He plans to take Nora back to Baxter Springs and then return to his own home, and although she is grateful, she protests that they should warn the fort. He argues that the people at the fort are the same kind as those who burned his home in Atlanta and killed his brother in battle. They sleep next to each other on the same blanket and are abruptly woken up by Kelso and the Union soldiers. When Nora warns them about the attack on Fort Smith, Kelso reveals, to Jim's chagrin, that women and children live with the soldiers at the fort. Outside the fort, Manning and the Indians set up the Gatling gun behind cover. The Indians attack at dawn, setting fire to the fort and mowing down soldiers with the Gatling gun as they attempt to leave. After an Indian scout at the fort reports to the commanding colonel that smoke signals reveal that perhaps a thousand Indians are approaching, the colonel refuses to signal his major on the other side of the ridge to attack because he fears a rout. Kelso and the Union soldiers arrive with Jim and Nora. After locating the Gatling gun, Jim jumps Manning, and Kelso fights the two Indians operating the gun with Manning. As Manning is about to crush Jim's skull with a rock, Jim knifes him to death. Jim and Kelso turn the Gatling gun on the Indians, and when the fort's colonel sees this, he signals his major to attack. The Union forces, supported by the Gatling gun, force the Indians to retreat. After the battle, Nora argues that Kelso should take into consideration Jim's actions. Kelso, who has learned that General Lee's forces are in full retreat, allows Jim to leave. Jim tells Nora that he plans to return to Georgia and fix up his home before he travels west again, but that he will make Baxter Springs his first stop. Nora says she plans to make it his last, and he counters that it will be his next to last and that she will like Atlanta. They embrace and he rides off as she watches. +

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

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