Smoke Signal (1955)

87-88 mins | Western | February 1955

Full page view
HISTORY

This film opens with a title card stating that it was shot in the "Grand Canyon of the Colorado, known as one of the most dangerous rivers in the world." According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, additional location shooting was done near Moab, UT. HR and Var news items dated 7 Apr 1953 reported that Richard Alan Simmons was hired to write the film's screenplay based on an original story by Harold Jack Bloom; however, neither of these writers are credited onscreen and their participation in the finished film has not been confirmed.
       On 4 May 1954, DV reported that the producers had pushed back the start of production in the hopes of getting Charlton Heston for the role of "Brett Halliday." According to studio press materials, over 75 Navajo Indians were hired to portray Utes in the film. In a modern interview, producer Howard Christie dubbed Smoke Signal "the first seagoing Western in history" and stated that the film was shot on stretches of the San Juan and Colorado Rivers located between Mexican Hat, UT and Marble Canyon, AZ. A modern source adds John Day to the ... More Less

This film opens with a title card stating that it was shot in the "Grand Canyon of the Colorado, known as one of the most dangerous rivers in the world." According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, additional location shooting was done near Moab, UT. HR and Var news items dated 7 Apr 1953 reported that Richard Alan Simmons was hired to write the film's screenplay based on an original story by Harold Jack Bloom; however, neither of these writers are credited onscreen and their participation in the finished film has not been confirmed.
       On 4 May 1954, DV reported that the producers had pushed back the start of production in the hopes of getting Charlton Heston for the role of "Brett Halliday." According to studio press materials, over 75 Navajo Indians were hired to portray Utes in the film. In a modern interview, producer Howard Christie dubbed Smoke Signal "the first seagoing Western in history" and stated that the film was shot on stretches of the San Juan and Colorado Rivers located between Mexican Hat, UT and Marble Canyon, AZ. A modern source adds John Day to the cast. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Feb 1955.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 1954.
---
Daily Variety
3 Feb 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
10 Feb 55
p. 10.
Harrison's Reports
5 Feb 55
p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 54
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 1954
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 55
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
10 Mar 1955.
---
Motion Picture Daily
3 Feb 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Feb 55
p. 314.
The Exhibitor
9 Feb 55
pp. 3916-17.
Variety
7 Apr 1953.
---
Variety
9 Feb 55
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story and scr
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
COSTUMES
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Dial dir
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor consultant
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1955
Production Date:
28 May--mid July 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
10 January 1955
Copyright Number:
LP4372
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
up to 2:1
Duration(in mins):
87-88
Length(in feet):
7,897
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17162
SYNOPSIS

In the 1850s, upon arriving at a small U.S. Cavalry outpost on the banks of the Colorado River, Captain Harper finds most of the fort's soldiers dead after a series of attacks by Ute Indians. Among the nine survivors are Laura Evans, the daughter of the dead commander, and her suitor, the arrogant Lieutenant Wayne Ford, who has temporarily taken charge of the remaining soldiers. The source of the trouble with the Ute tribe is assumed to be the fort's prisoner, Captain Brett Halliday, who, a few years previously, had defected to the Ute and is now awaiting a court-martial on charges of treason and murder. Halliday defends himself, explaining that when captured by the Army, he was escaping the Ute in order to reach an Apache chief with the power to stop the Ute's progressively violent attacks against the whites. However, no one believes Halliday's story, and Harper, whose brother was killed in a skirmish with the Ute while Halliday was aligned with the tribe, vows to bring the former Army captain to justice. When it becomes obvious that they can no longer remain in the fort, the soldiers, along with Laura, Halliday and Garode, a fur trader, build makeshift boats and take the only escape route possible, the treacherous and uncharted Colorado River. Ute warriors follow the two boats from the cliffs of the canyon and manage to kill a number of men, while others are nearly lost in the rapids. Halliday succeeds in a daring rescue of the helpless Private Livingston, who had earlier been blinded in a Ute attack, leading Sergeant Miles, whose life was once saved by Halliday, to defend ... +


In the 1850s, upon arriving at a small U.S. Cavalry outpost on the banks of the Colorado River, Captain Harper finds most of the fort's soldiers dead after a series of attacks by Ute Indians. Among the nine survivors are Laura Evans, the daughter of the dead commander, and her suitor, the arrogant Lieutenant Wayne Ford, who has temporarily taken charge of the remaining soldiers. The source of the trouble with the Ute tribe is assumed to be the fort's prisoner, Captain Brett Halliday, who, a few years previously, had defected to the Ute and is now awaiting a court-martial on charges of treason and murder. Halliday defends himself, explaining that when captured by the Army, he was escaping the Ute in order to reach an Apache chief with the power to stop the Ute's progressively violent attacks against the whites. However, no one believes Halliday's story, and Harper, whose brother was killed in a skirmish with the Ute while Halliday was aligned with the tribe, vows to bring the former Army captain to justice. When it becomes obvious that they can no longer remain in the fort, the soldiers, along with Laura, Halliday and Garode, a fur trader, build makeshift boats and take the only escape route possible, the treacherous and uncharted Colorado River. Ute warriors follow the two boats from the cliffs of the canyon and manage to kill a number of men, while others are nearly lost in the rapids. Halliday succeeds in a daring rescue of the helpless Private Livingston, who had earlier been blinded in a Ute attack, leading Sergeant Miles, whose life was once saved by Halliday, to defend his former captain to Harper. However, Harper and Ford, who is jealous of Laura's apparent interest in Halliday, continue to insist he is a traitor and cannot be trusted. After one of the boats breaks apart in the rapids and Halliday attempts more selfless rescues, Halliday finds himself briefly alone with Laura, who wants to know the truth behind his defection from the Army. Halliday reluctantly reveals that Laura's father, Commander Evans, was a brutal and intolerant man who treated the Ute Indians with great cruelty and injustice. Halliday was unwilling to carry out Evans' orders and defected to the Ute in the hope that he could protect them while he worked for a peaceful end to Evans' campaign of terror. Later, the Ute chief became as intolerant and warmongering as Evans, and Halliday tried to reach the Apaches for assistance in ending the violence. Although she must now face the truth about her father, Laura believes Halliday and falls in love with him. After Laura rebuffs Ford's advances, Ford angrily claims that Halliday is a "squawman" with a Ute wife awaiting him, but later Halliday explains to Laura that his wife was killed in the same battle in which Harper's brother died. An increasingly bitter Ford attempts to kill Halliday, but stumbles over a cliff and falls to his death. Finally, the small and exhausted band of survivors near the safety of a U.S. fort and spy a band of peaceful Apaches on the shore. The two remaining soldiers and Garode want Harper to release Halliday so that he can carry out his plan to attain peace and clear his name. However, Harper, an honorable man who cannot shirk his military duty, insists that he must deliver Halliday to the court. Nevertheless, Harper has come to trust and respect Halliday, so he subtly encourages him to make an escape, after which the soldiers dutifully shoot in Halliday's direction, purposefully missing him. As they watch Halliday swim to shore, Harper assures the grateful Laura that the man she has come to love will return to prove his innocence. +

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.