The Guns of Fort Petticoat (1957)

80-83 mins | Western | April 1957

Director:

George Marshall

Writer:

Walter Doniger

Producer:

Harry Joe Brown

Cinematographer:

Ray Rennahan

Production Designer:

George Brooks

Production Company:

Brown-Murphy Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Petticoat Brigade . C. William Harrison's novel The Guns of Fort Petticoat first appeared in Collier's under the title of "Petticoat Brigade" (25 Nov--9 Dec 1955). According to a 7 Oct 1955 HR news item, writer Walter Doniger was originally scheduled to direct the film. The Guns of Fort Petticoat marked the first production of Brown-Murphy Pictures, Inc., an independent production company owned by Harry Joe Brown and Audie Murphy.
       Historical sources note that in 1861, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians were forced onto the desolate Sand Creek Reservation in southeastern Colorado when gold prospectors poured into the state. In retaliation, these tribes launched attacks on the stagecoach lines to Denver. However, it was a band of peaceful Cheyenne, led by Black Kettle, who were attacked without warning on 29 Nov 1864, when Col. John M. Chivington led volunteer Colorado militiamen in what is now known as the Sand Creek Massacre. As many as two hundred Cheyenne, many of them women and children, were killed during the massacre. Chivington was later investigated by Congress and forced to resign. ... More Less

The working title of this film was Petticoat Brigade . C. William Harrison's novel The Guns of Fort Petticoat first appeared in Collier's under the title of "Petticoat Brigade" (25 Nov--9 Dec 1955). According to a 7 Oct 1955 HR news item, writer Walter Doniger was originally scheduled to direct the film. The Guns of Fort Petticoat marked the first production of Brown-Murphy Pictures, Inc., an independent production company owned by Harry Joe Brown and Audie Murphy.
       Historical sources note that in 1861, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians were forced onto the desolate Sand Creek Reservation in southeastern Colorado when gold prospectors poured into the state. In retaliation, these tribes launched attacks on the stagecoach lines to Denver. However, it was a band of peaceful Cheyenne, led by Black Kettle, who were attacked without warning on 29 Nov 1864, when Col. John M. Chivington led volunteer Colorado militiamen in what is now known as the Sand Creek Massacre. As many as two hundred Cheyenne, many of them women and children, were killed during the massacre. Chivington was later investigated by Congress and forced to resign. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Mar 1957.
---
Daily Variety
13 Mar 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Mar 57
p. 9.
Harrison's Reports
16 Mar 57
pp. 42-43.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 56
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 56
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 57
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Mar 57
p. 298.
The Exhibitor
20 Mar 57
p. 4301.
Variety
13 Mar 57
p. 6.
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 EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
MUSIC
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Guns of Fort Petticoat by C. William Harrison (New York, 1957).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Petticoat Brigade
Release Date:
April 1957
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 3 April 1957
Production Date:
16 April--18 May 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Brown-Murphy Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 April 1957
Copyright Number:
LP8354
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
80-83
Length(in feet):
7,315 , 7,432
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18171
SYNOPSIS

At the close of the Civil War, Lt. Frank Hewitt, a Texan who has joined the U.S. Cavalry, encounters a band of Cheyenne Indians who have illegally left the Sand Creek Reservation on a trading expedition. Because the Indians are unarmed, Frank's detachment merely orders them to return home. After Frank reports the incident to his superior, Col. Chivington, however, Chivington orders an attack on Sand Creek. Worried about Indian reprisals in nearby Texas, which because of the war is occupied mostly by women and children, Frank deserts his post and heads south. Along the way, he witnesses the brutal massacre of the peaceful Cheyenne people at Sand Creek. In Texas, Frank's warnings of potential Indian attacks go unheeded because of the uniform he wears. Even his old flame, Stella Leatham, who has since married, calls him a "damned Yankee." After citizen Dora Hartley is attacked in her home, however, Frank is put in charge of defending the town. He names Hannah Lacey, a tough widow who can shoot, as his sergeant. Aided by the reluctant "Kettle," an Irish-American cowboy, he and Hannah begin to drill the new "soldiers." Among others, the soldiers-in-training include Mrs. Ogden, a haughty dowager from Charleston, her black maid Hetty, dance hall entertainer Lucy Conover, and Ann Martin, to whom Frank is secretly attracted. Although Kettle has convinced the women they must go to a safer location, Frank is certain they will all be killed if they leave and sets the horses free. Frank then catches Kettle trying to steal their one remaining horse and imprisons him. Speaking tenderly from his jail cell to his sweetheart, Mary ... +


At the close of the Civil War, Lt. Frank Hewitt, a Texan who has joined the U.S. Cavalry, encounters a band of Cheyenne Indians who have illegally left the Sand Creek Reservation on a trading expedition. Because the Indians are unarmed, Frank's detachment merely orders them to return home. After Frank reports the incident to his superior, Col. Chivington, however, Chivington orders an attack on Sand Creek. Worried about Indian reprisals in nearby Texas, which because of the war is occupied mostly by women and children, Frank deserts his post and heads south. Along the way, he witnesses the brutal massacre of the peaceful Cheyenne people at Sand Creek. In Texas, Frank's warnings of potential Indian attacks go unheeded because of the uniform he wears. Even his old flame, Stella Leatham, who has since married, calls him a "damned Yankee." After citizen Dora Hartley is attacked in her home, however, Frank is put in charge of defending the town. He names Hannah Lacey, a tough widow who can shoot, as his sergeant. Aided by the reluctant "Kettle," an Irish-American cowboy, he and Hannah begin to drill the new "soldiers." Among others, the soldiers-in-training include Mrs. Ogden, a haughty dowager from Charleston, her black maid Hetty, dance hall entertainer Lucy Conover, and Ann Martin, to whom Frank is secretly attracted. Although Kettle has convinced the women they must go to a safer location, Frank is certain they will all be killed if they leave and sets the horses free. Frank then catches Kettle trying to steal their one remaining horse and imprisons him. Speaking tenderly from his jail cell to his sweetheart, Mary Wheeler, who is pregnant with his child, Kettle promises to marry her if she will release him. After she does, Kettle shoves her to the ground and escapes to a ranch house some miles away. There he encounters one Mexican and two American outlaws, who force him to reveal the location of the women and their jewels and money. Then Kipper, the outlaws' leader, shoots Kettle, and the bandits ride out to a nearby mission. When the women see them, they raise their rifles and order the men to leave. The outlaws ride into the countryside, encounter a large group of angry Indians and encourage them to attack the mission. The women hide on the roof, and the Indians, assuming the outlaws lied to them, fatally shoot the men. As the band rides away, however, young Bax stands up too soon and is spotted. Though short on ammunition, the women drive their attackers off. Later, Frank devises a plan and commands the women to place gunpowder "bombs" just outside the mission gates. The next morning, as the Indians attack, Sgt. Lacey and her troops fire their rifles at the bombs, causing them to explode and injure the Indians. In the resulting confusion, Frank finds the tribe's retreating medicine man and kills him, then returns to the mission with the corpse. Just as the ammunition runs out, the women hoist up the medicine man's body, causing the Indians to flee. Later, Frank returns to the Cavalry to face desertion charges, but Chivington refuses to believe that the women successfully defended themselves against hostile Indians. During the trial, Sgt. Lacey and her troops demand that Frank be released. The colonel is outraged, but the general states that the wrong man is on trial and arrests Chivington for his role in the Sand Creek massacre. As the women congratulate their former lieutenant, Ann approaches, and Frank embraces his new love. +

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

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