Custer's Last Fight (1925)

Western | 1925

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HISTORY

This film is an expanded version of a 1912 Bison three-reel film, Custer's Last Raid , originally produced by the New York Motion Picture Co. and distributed by the Tower Film Corp. In the 1925 version, there are more intertitles, which differ in appearance from those used in the 1912 film. The battle scenes were lengthened, and some of the actions that do not occur or that are merely described by intertitles in the 1912 release were fully dramatized in the later version. Modern sources list the 1912 cast members as Francis Ford, Anna Little , Grace Cunard, William Eagleshirt, J. Barney Sherry, Charles K. French, Lillian Christie, Snowball and Art Acord, and credit Ray Smallwood as the photographer. The Ghost Dance religion was founded in 1888 by a Paiute Indian named Wovoka, son of the mystic Tavibo.
       In Nov 1890, after the Ghost Dance had been banned from Sioux reservations, Kicking Bear and Short Bull, both Miniconjou Tetons, invited Sitting Bull to join them in defying the ban. Before he could leave the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, however, Indian police attempted to arrest him. In the scuffle, he and seven of his warriors were killed. For more information about Custer and the Battle of Little Big Horn, please see the entry for They Died With Their Boots On in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ... More Less

This film is an expanded version of a 1912 Bison three-reel film, Custer's Last Raid , originally produced by the New York Motion Picture Co. and distributed by the Tower Film Corp. In the 1925 version, there are more intertitles, which differ in appearance from those used in the 1912 film. The battle scenes were lengthened, and some of the actions that do not occur or that are merely described by intertitles in the 1912 release were fully dramatized in the later version. Modern sources list the 1912 cast members as Francis Ford, Anna Little , Grace Cunard, William Eagleshirt, J. Barney Sherry, Charles K. French, Lillian Christie, Snowball and Art Acord, and credit Ray Smallwood as the photographer. The Ghost Dance religion was founded in 1888 by a Paiute Indian named Wovoka, son of the mystic Tavibo.
       In Nov 1890, after the Ghost Dance had been banned from Sioux reservations, Kicking Bear and Short Bull, both Miniconjou Tetons, invited Sitting Bull to join them in defying the ban. Before he could leave the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, however, Indian police attempted to arrest him. In the scuffle, he and seven of his warriors were killed. For more information about Custer and the Battle of Little Big Horn, please see the entry for They Died With Their Boots On in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 . More Less

PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
Prod under the personal supv of
WRITERS
Ed and titled by
DETAILS
Release Date:
1925
Copyright Claimant:
Quality Amusement Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 June 1925
Copyright Number:
LP21952
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
4,250
Length(in reels):
5
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The Cheyenne and Sioux nations, both bitterly opposed to the advance of white civilization, join forces in attempting to stem the flow of westward-moving immigrants in Wyoming and Montana by attacking immigrants and forts on the Bozeman wagon trail in Montana. In 1868, Congress orders several forts closed and grants the Sioux exclusive use of a vast territory, filling the Indians with pride and insolence. Soon, however, the Northern Pacific Railroad sends a survey team to the area in 1873. When two of the surveyors wander away from the main group, a warrior named Rain-in-the-Face kills them both. During the following year, agent James McLaughlin overhears the warrior boasting of his kill at a government Indian post and wires Fort Abraham Lincoln for help. Capt. Tom Custer, the brother of Gen. George Armstrong Custer, arrests Rain-in-the-Face, but the Indian later escapes. Lured by gold discovered in the Black Hills, white settlers and adventurers ignore the government ban and flood into Sioux territory. In 1875, the Sioux are notified that by the following year, they must reside only on designated reservations, but Sitting Bull, the medicine man of the Sioux, defies the order. In early 1876, Gen. Terry, Col. Gibbon, and Gen. Crook join Custer in attempting to force the Indians onto the reservations. Terry's force of twelve-hundred men moves into Montana to join Gibbon's column. They set up camp near the Big Horn Mountains, in whose valleys the Indians are preparing to fight. Meanwhile, Custer and his Seventh Cavalry are sent into the area. Their scouts, Crow Indians who are enemies of the Sioux, report a large encampment of the enemy on the Little Big ... +


The Cheyenne and Sioux nations, both bitterly opposed to the advance of white civilization, join forces in attempting to stem the flow of westward-moving immigrants in Wyoming and Montana by attacking immigrants and forts on the Bozeman wagon trail in Montana. In 1868, Congress orders several forts closed and grants the Sioux exclusive use of a vast territory, filling the Indians with pride and insolence. Soon, however, the Northern Pacific Railroad sends a survey team to the area in 1873. When two of the surveyors wander away from the main group, a warrior named Rain-in-the-Face kills them both. During the following year, agent James McLaughlin overhears the warrior boasting of his kill at a government Indian post and wires Fort Abraham Lincoln for help. Capt. Tom Custer, the brother of Gen. George Armstrong Custer, arrests Rain-in-the-Face, but the Indian later escapes. Lured by gold discovered in the Black Hills, white settlers and adventurers ignore the government ban and flood into Sioux territory. In 1875, the Sioux are notified that by the following year, they must reside only on designated reservations, but Sitting Bull, the medicine man of the Sioux, defies the order. In early 1876, Gen. Terry, Col. Gibbon, and Gen. Crook join Custer in attempting to force the Indians onto the reservations. Terry's force of twelve-hundred men moves into Montana to join Gibbon's column. They set up camp near the Big Horn Mountains, in whose valleys the Indians are preparing to fight. Meanwhile, Custer and his Seventh Cavalry are sent into the area. Their scouts, Crow Indians who are enemies of the Sioux, report a large encampment of the enemy on the Little Big Horn River. Custer orders Maj. Reno to storm the Indian village, planning to join the attack from higher ground. The Indians at the camp, who comprise a far larger group than Custer expects, are celebrating a Sun Dance, but when Reno attacks, they force him to retreat. As Custer approaches the village, Reno finds himself engaged in battle on the opposite side of the river and decides that it is too dangerous to leave this position. Greatly outnumbered, Custer and the Seventh Cavalry fight bravely, while Tom fights Rain-in-the-Face, who cuts out his heart. As Sitting Bull "makes medicine" for victory at a safe distance, Rain-in-the-Face and his brother Gall then charge their enemies, and Custer, along with every soldier in his detachment, is killed. Following the battle, Indian squaws and youths swarm onto the field to strip and mutilate the bodies. The body of Custer is left untouched, however, as he is recognized as a "great chief." The Indians sing in celebration all through the night, but when Terry and Gibbon approach with the infantry, they flee. Terry weeps over Custer's body, and the 212 men who died in the battle are buried on the field. Upon hearing this news, Mrs. Custer and the other women of Fort Abraham Lincoln are stricken with grief. The pursuit of Sitting Bull lasts for several years. Deserted by Rain-in-the-Face, Sitting Bull and the starving remnants of his band surrender at Fort Buford in 1881. At an Indian agency in 1890, Sitting Bull initiates the Ghost Dance, a religious ceremony intended to hasten the day when the ghosts of dead Indians will return and drive great herds of ponies and buffalo. On this day, the belief goes, the "paleface" will be smothered in the earth, and the Indian will again reign supreme. During the Ghost Dance, many Indians go into a trance, and Sitting Bull states that one of the celebrants is in communication with spirits. So powerful is the Ghost Dance that Sitting Bull is arrested, but because he resists, he is killed by an Indian policeman. At Custer's funeral, a large monument is erected and the U.S. flag flies. +

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.