Battles of Chief Pontiac (1952)

71-72 or 74 mins | Western | December 1952

Director:

Felix E. Feist

Writer:

Jack DeWitt

Producer:

Irving Starr

Cinematographer:

Charles Van Enger

Editor:

Philip Cahn

Production Designer:

Boris Leven

Production Company:

Jack Broder Productions, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

This film opens with the following spoken foreword: "This is the city of Detroit. Where this teeming industrial metropolis now stands, there was some two hundred years back, a small guarded fort, protecting a handful of white settlers. Fort Detroit was surrounded by many Indian tribes. The most prominent of these was the Ottawas, a proud people who in the period from 1763 to 1769, was ruled over by Chief Pontiac. Pontiac was a great warrior, a man of faith, who believed the Indian and white man could live together. The English who controlled his territory, hired professional German soldiers known as Hessians, to help patrol the area. One of the Hessian officers, a Colonel von Weber, did not share Pontiac's point of view. He was ambitious, ruthless and greedy for power."
       As depicted in the film, during the French and Indian War, after the French surrendered the northern territories to the British, Hessian troops were hired as reinforcements. Modern historical sources also recount that the British instituted more regulations to control the Native Americans than the French and planned to take over the territories completely. Chief Pontiac waged several attacks against Fort Detroit, which was under the command of Major Henry Gladwin, but Gladwin forestalled the attacks after being forewarned by informers. At Fort Pitt, Captain Simeon Ecuyer was also under attack by local tribes, and followed orders from Lord Jeffrey Amherst, then British commander-in-chief of the Americas, to send smallpox-ridden blankets to the tribes. Many Native Americans died from the resulting smallpox epidemic. After the French were compelled to withdraw their support of the Native Americans when the Treaty of ... More Less

This film opens with the following spoken foreword: "This is the city of Detroit. Where this teeming industrial metropolis now stands, there was some two hundred years back, a small guarded fort, protecting a handful of white settlers. Fort Detroit was surrounded by many Indian tribes. The most prominent of these was the Ottawas, a proud people who in the period from 1763 to 1769, was ruled over by Chief Pontiac. Pontiac was a great warrior, a man of faith, who believed the Indian and white man could live together. The English who controlled his territory, hired professional German soldiers known as Hessians, to help patrol the area. One of the Hessian officers, a Colonel von Weber, did not share Pontiac's point of view. He was ambitious, ruthless and greedy for power."
       As depicted in the film, during the French and Indian War, after the French surrendered the northern territories to the British, Hessian troops were hired as reinforcements. Modern historical sources also recount that the British instituted more regulations to control the Native Americans than the French and planned to take over the territories completely. Chief Pontiac waged several attacks against Fort Detroit, which was under the command of Major Henry Gladwin, but Gladwin forestalled the attacks after being forewarned by informers. At Fort Pitt, Captain Simeon Ecuyer was also under attack by local tribes, and followed orders from Lord Jeffrey Amherst, then British commander-in-chief of the Americas, to send smallpox-ridden blankets to the tribes. Many Native Americans died from the resulting smallpox epidemic. After the French were compelled to withdraw their support of the Native Americans when the Treaty of Paris was signed, Pontiac called a truce.
       A 1950 Var news item noted that an original story titled "Chief Pontiac," written by Jack DeWitt and Woodruff Smith, was purchased by Jack Schwarz Productions. DeWitt receives sole writing credit onscreen and Smith's contribution to the final screenplay has not been confirmed. Schwarz's connection to the final film is also unknown. A Jul 1952 HR news item adds Roy Engel to the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to Jul and Aug 1952 HR news items, some scenes were shot on location in Colorado and South Dakota. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Dec 1952.
---
Daily Variety
9 Dec 1952.
---
Harrison's Reports
20 Dec 52
p. 203.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 52
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 52
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 52
p. 3.
The Exhibitor
19 Nov 52
p. 3417.
Variety
28 Mar 1950.
---
Variety
17 Dec 52
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Ed supv
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Men's ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and dir
SOUND
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1952
Production Date:
23 July--early August 1952
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
71-72 or 74
Length(in feet):
6,549
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the late 1700s, after British troops have driven the French out of the northern American territory, the British hire Hessian soldiers as reinforcements in their war against the Indians. Notoriously brutal Hessian commander von Weber launches surprise raids against Indian villages, ruthlessly killing men, women and children. Near Fort Detroit, Chief Pontiac, a spiritual and tribal leader, declares war against the whites because of the harsh new British rule. British general Jeffrey Amherst, meanwhile, congratulates von Weber on his successful campaign against the Indians. Amherst instructs von Weber, who hates all Indians because he was once captured and tortured by a tribe, to continue until the British can gain control of the Great Lakes region. While they are talking, Ranger Lieutenant Kent McIntire comes in and demands that Amherst put a halt to the butchery. Amherst, however, refuses to rein in von Weber and orders him to take command of Ft. Detroit away from Maj. Gladwin, who is sympathetic to the Indians. While returning to Ft. Detroit through the wilderness, Kent secretly speaks with Winifred Lancaster, the daughter of a British officer recently killed by the Indians, who is among a group of women taken hostage by Pontiac's warrior Hawkbill. Hawkbill captures Kent and takes him to Pontiac, who is Kent's "blood brother." Kent tells Pontiac about the British campaign against his tribe and warns him that Hessian reinforcements are being brought to the fort. Although Pontiac is committed to fighting the whites, he agrees to meet with Gladwin to discuss the possibility of peace. When Hawkbill starts to court Winifred, Kent claims her as his wife, pointing out a gold ring he had secretly given her as ... +


In the late 1700s, after British troops have driven the French out of the northern American territory, the British hire Hessian soldiers as reinforcements in their war against the Indians. Notoriously brutal Hessian commander von Weber launches surprise raids against Indian villages, ruthlessly killing men, women and children. Near Fort Detroit, Chief Pontiac, a spiritual and tribal leader, declares war against the whites because of the harsh new British rule. British general Jeffrey Amherst, meanwhile, congratulates von Weber on his successful campaign against the Indians. Amherst instructs von Weber, who hates all Indians because he was once captured and tortured by a tribe, to continue until the British can gain control of the Great Lakes region. While they are talking, Ranger Lieutenant Kent McIntire comes in and demands that Amherst put a halt to the butchery. Amherst, however, refuses to rein in von Weber and orders him to take command of Ft. Detroit away from Maj. Gladwin, who is sympathetic to the Indians. While returning to Ft. Detroit through the wilderness, Kent secretly speaks with Winifred Lancaster, the daughter of a British officer recently killed by the Indians, who is among a group of women taken hostage by Pontiac's warrior Hawkbill. Hawkbill captures Kent and takes him to Pontiac, who is Kent's "blood brother." Kent tells Pontiac about the British campaign against his tribe and warns him that Hessian reinforcements are being brought to the fort. Although Pontiac is committed to fighting the whites, he agrees to meet with Gladwin to discuss the possibility of peace. When Hawkbill starts to court Winifred, Kent claims her as his wife, pointing out a gold ring he had secretly given her as proof, and after a makeshift tribal wedding ceremony insisted upon by Pontiac, Winifred is accepted as family. Hawkbill, however, holds a grudge against Kent. Kent reports to Gladwin about his progress with Pontiac, but when von Weber takes over, he refuses to confer with Pontiac and threatens to arrest Gladwin when he insists that von Weber maintain the truce. Instead, von Weber sends a "gift" of clothing and blankets infested with smallpox to Pontiac's tribe, and plans to attack as soon as they are stricken by the illness. Kent revolts against von Weber and is arrested, but Gladwin helps him escape unharmed. At Pontiac's village, Winifred, who previously hated the Indians, has developed a newfound respect for them, and is distraught when her new friends become mortally ill with smallpox. Kent tells Pontiac that the disease is von Weber's doing, and Pontiac suggests that he and Winifred flee before the warriors find out. Kent and Winifred leave after they help boil the blankets and clothing to rid them of the disease. That night, they declare their love for each other and return to the fort after seeing von Weber march out with his troops. When Kent tells Gladwin that Pontiac is massing for war, Gladwin orders him to warn von Weber, who expects to ambush the Indians. Kent does not catch up to von Weber and his troops until after the Indians have made their initial attack. During a pause in the battle, Kent warns von Weber and his men to retreat, but von Weber shoots him. Pontiac and his men slaughter the soldiers and capture von Weber alive. At the Indian village, von Weber is tied to a post and covered in pestilence-ridden blankets, and in time, he becomes ill and dies. Gladwin and Winifred ride to the village bearing a white flag, and Pontiac agrees to consider peace, although the Great Spirit has advised him that all Indians will soon be overwhelmed by the whites. As Gladwin and Pontiac smoke a peace pipe, Winifred runs to embrace the wounded Kent. +

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.