Two Flags West (1950)

92 mins | Drama | November 1950

Director:

Robert Wise

Writer:

Casey Robinson

Producer:

Casey Robinson

Cinematographer:

Leon Shamroy

Editor:

Louis Loeffler

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Chester Gore

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Trumpet to the Morn . The opening credits contain the following statement: "On December 8th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Special Proclamation, whereby Confederate Prisoners of War might gain their freedom, provided they would join the Union Army to defend the frontier West against the Indians." In correspondence included in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, writer Frank S. Nugent stated that he came up with the idea for this film while he was working on the screenplay of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (see above) in the fall of 1948. While doing research, Nugent read a brief statement in the book Fighting Indians of the West , by Dee Brown and Martin F. Schmitt (New York, 1948) concerning the use of paroled Confederate soldiers to man frontier forts at the end of the Civil War. After a futile attempt to locate confirming information, Nugent wrote to Schmitt at the University of Oregon. Schmitt and Brown responded with further information regarding sources of the information, in particular, the seventy-odd volumes of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion . Nugent noted that over six thousand former Confederate soldiers, after taking a loyalty oath, were "galvanized," and that late in 1864, there was a Confederate conspiracy to open a road from El Paso to California so that Southern sympathizers in California could fight in the war. Nugent's story was originally entitled "The Yankee from Georgia." He submitted it to the Goldwyn Studios and to M-G-M, but although those studios expressed interest, they made no offer ... More Less

The working title of this film was Trumpet to the Morn . The opening credits contain the following statement: "On December 8th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Special Proclamation, whereby Confederate Prisoners of War might gain their freedom, provided they would join the Union Army to defend the frontier West against the Indians." In correspondence included in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, writer Frank S. Nugent stated that he came up with the idea for this film while he was working on the screenplay of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (see above) in the fall of 1948. While doing research, Nugent read a brief statement in the book Fighting Indians of the West , by Dee Brown and Martin F. Schmitt (New York, 1948) concerning the use of paroled Confederate soldiers to man frontier forts at the end of the Civil War. After a futile attempt to locate confirming information, Nugent wrote to Schmitt at the University of Oregon. Schmitt and Brown responded with further information regarding sources of the information, in particular, the seventy-odd volumes of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion . Nugent noted that over six thousand former Confederate soldiers, after taking a loyalty oath, were "galvanized," and that late in 1864, there was a Confederate conspiracy to open a road from El Paso to California so that Southern sympathizers in California could fight in the war. Nugent's story was originally entitled "The Yankee from Georgia." He submitted it to the Goldwyn Studios and to M-G-M, but although those studios expressed interest, they made no offer until it could be more fully developed.
       According to LAEx , Twentieth Century-Fox bought the story with the intention of starring Victor Mature in the role of "Col. Clay Tucker." Richard Basehart subsequently was signed for the role, before being replaced by Joseph Cotten, who was borrowed from Selznick. Kathryn Sheldon was originally scheduled to play "Mrs. Magowan." Location scenes were shot at the San Ildefonso Pueblo, a community of Tewa Indians twenty-two miles from Santa Fe, NM. According to publicity for the film, buildings in the pueblo date from the 1500s. The filmmakers agreed not to come near the tribal kiva (the underground council room), the graveyard or sacred shrines.
       In 1951, R. W. Alcorn , a producer, claimed in correspondence with Twentieth Century-Fox that in Sep 1949 he purchased a story entitled "Between Two Flags" by William R. Lipman, which, he stated, was very similar to this film. Alcorn claimed to have contacted Nugent to work on the story outline, but Nugent denied this, saying he had never been given a copy of Lipman's story. No further information regarding Alcorn's claim has been located.
       In Apr 1957, the Twentieth Century-Fox Hour broadcast a remake of Two Flags West entitled "The Still Trumpet," starring Dale Robertson, who appeared in a supporting role in the original version. The teleplay was written by Curtis Kenyon and the show was directed by Lewis Allen. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Oct 1950.
---
Cue
14 Oct 1950.
---
Daily Variety
9 Oct 1950.
---
Film Daily
10 Oct 50
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
14 Oct 50
p. 164.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 50
p. 3, 8
Los Angeles Daily News
30 May 1950.
---
Los Angeles Daily News
2 Nov 1950.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
23 Sep 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
2 Nov 1950.
---
Motion Picture Daily
10 Oct 50
p. 14.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Oct 50
p. 518.
New York Times
13 Oct 50
p. 23.
The Exhibitor
11 Oct 50
pp. 2952-53.
Variety
11 Oct 50
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Based on a story by
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Horse handler
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
SONGS
"Dixie," words and music attributed to Daniel Decatur Emmett
"I'm a Good Old Rebel," traditional
"Battle Hymn of the Republic," words by Julia Ward Howe, music by William Steffe.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Trumpet to the Morn
Release Date:
November 1950
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 12 October 1950
Production Date:
11 April--late May 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
11 October 1950
Copyright Number:
LP605
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
92
Length(in feet):
8,258
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
14543
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At a prison camp at Rock Island, Illinois, in the autumn of 1864, Captain Mark Bradford, who became the camp commander after injuries ended his fighting career, offers Confederate prisoners the chance to be paroled. In order to be freed, the prisoners must agree to serve as Union soldiers and protect frontier forts against Indians. The Confederates' leader, Colonel Clay Tucker of Georgia, knows that there will be no further exchanges of prisoners and so considers the offer. After seeing one of his men die in the prison, Clay gets Mark's word that the men will not be asked to fight against their own, then breaks a tie vote among the prisoners in favor of going. Clay is demoted to 2nd lieutenant, and the unit joins the 3rd Cavalry of the Army of the Republic at Fort Thorn, New Mexico. Fort Thorn is commanded by the stern, rebel-hating Major Henry Kenniston, who is frustrated that an injury suffered during his first battle has kept him from the war. At dinner, the major's sister-in-law Elena, a Mexican-American from Monterey, breaks down in tears when Clay relates that he fought at Chancellorsville, where her husband, the major's brother, lost his life. Mark, who fell in love with Elena on the day of her wedding, is surprised to find her there, and she states that Kenniston wrote her that she could reach the fort with an Army supply train, then travel to Monterey with an escorted wagon. She has now been at the fort for six months, and in addition to becoming frustrated with Kenniston's excuse that he cannot spare a wagon escort, she is tired ... +


At a prison camp at Rock Island, Illinois, in the autumn of 1864, Captain Mark Bradford, who became the camp commander after injuries ended his fighting career, offers Confederate prisoners the chance to be paroled. In order to be freed, the prisoners must agree to serve as Union soldiers and protect frontier forts against Indians. The Confederates' leader, Colonel Clay Tucker of Georgia, knows that there will be no further exchanges of prisoners and so considers the offer. After seeing one of his men die in the prison, Clay gets Mark's word that the men will not be asked to fight against their own, then breaks a tie vote among the prisoners in favor of going. Clay is demoted to 2nd lieutenant, and the unit joins the 3rd Cavalry of the Army of the Republic at Fort Thorn, New Mexico. Fort Thorn is commanded by the stern, rebel-hating Major Henry Kenniston, who is frustrated that an injury suffered during his first battle has kept him from the war. At dinner, the major's sister-in-law Elena, a Mexican-American from Monterey, breaks down in tears when Clay relates that he fought at Chancellorsville, where her husband, the major's brother, lost his life. Mark, who fell in love with Elena on the day of her wedding, is surprised to find her there, and she states that Kenniston wrote her that she could reach the fort with an Army supply train, then travel to Monterey with an escorted wagon. She has now been at the fort for six months, and in addition to becoming frustrated with Kenniston's excuse that he cannot spare a wagon escort, she is tired of his over-protective attitude and romantic aspirations. When the Southerners chase some Indians into a mountain pass, Kenniston orders "retreat" sounded, then reprimands Clay in the presence of his men for almost riding into a trap. After the Southerners, obeying Kenniston's orders, execute two men for running whiskey and guns to the Indians, they find out that the men were agents of the Confederate government. Feeling that Kenniston has broken their agreement, Clay joins his disgruntled men in planning to desert. Kenniston then sends the Southern troops to escort a wagon train West, hoping that if they desert, they will do it then, while he is expecting it. Although Kenniston takes Elena's name off the lists of passengers, she hides in the parson's wagon and when Mark spots her hiding, he says nothing. Along the way, Clay learns that Elena has come along, and after he allows her to stay, they grow fond of each other during the trip. The night before the troops plan to bolt for Texas, Ephraim Strong, a Confederate agent who has masqueraded as a merchant, tells Clay of his plan to link Confederate Texas with the Pacific Ocean. Strong hopes to defeat the blockade that is strangling the South and make Californian gold available to the Confederacy. Strong urges Clay not to desert, but to return and gain Kenniston's confidence, as Fort Thorn is the only block between Texas and Tucson, and also bring Elena back, so as not to antagonize Kenniston. After their return, Kenniston still does not trust Clay even though he brought Elena back, and when suspicious wagon tracks are spotted in the vicinity, Clay is not chosen for the patrol. When the son of the feared Kiowa chief Satank is captured, the chief and his warriors approach the fort to demand the boy's return. Kenniston, calling the son a "rebel," orders him shot, whereupon Satank issues a threat and leaves. Meanwhile, Clay has received orders to take his troops to rendezvous with a wagon train and proceed with it to California. Clay takes over command of the patrol from Mark, who had come to regard him as a friend, but when he learns that the fort is surrounded by Satank and his braves, Clay and his men decide to go back, as they know that women and children will die if they desert. During the fight with the Indians, Mark is wounded, and Clay rescues him when an Indian tries to kill him. After fighting has temporarily ceased for the night, Clay apologizes to Elena, who is helping to nurse the wounded, for bringing her back, and she sadly relates that before he died, Mark confessed he loved her. A note attached to a flaming arrow arrives with a message that the Indians demand the lives of the officers in revenge for the murder of Satank's son, but that they will spare the others. Kenniston then decides to go alone to his death and turns over command to Clay, who is now respectful of Kenniston's integrity. When he leaves the fort and the gates close, Kenniston issues an agonizing scream, and his body is recovered the following day after the Indians leave. A rider then arrives with the news that General Sherman has completed his march to the sea and that Savannah is surrounded, leaving the Confederacy cut in half. As the Union soldiers whoop at the news and sing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," the rebels proudly sing "Dixie." With the news that the war will soon be over, Elena comforts Clay, who despairs that there is now nothing left to go home to. She asks for help to rebuild her home at the fort, and in Spanish, tells him it will all seem better tomorrow. +

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

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