Stagecoach - Native American Movie Listing


Stagecoach is a black and white classic "disparate strangers tossed together" kind of story - and this is the original 1939 version starring John Wayne. You've got all sorts on the stagecoach - Wayne as the goodhearted outlaw out for revenge, a sweet prostitute, a high-class lady, a southern gentleman gambler, a drunkard doc, and so on.

Each person has their own motivation for going on the stagecoach - most are escaping one thing or another in the town. The problem is that the Apaches are out causing trouble, being stirred up by Geronimo. They're told this by another indian - apparently "The Cheyenne hate Apaches worse than we do". One of the hotels in town is named the "Tonto Hotel". Lone Ranger lovers will enjoy the reference. Rumor has it that the friend of the Lone Ranger was named after the Spanish word for "fool".

Soon of course there are Indian troubles for the travelers. They head up higher into the hills because, as one of the men wryly comments, "those beach crowd Apaches don't like snow." The only real Apache they run into is the "squaw" wife of a local Mexican trader. She's one of Geronimo's people - but she sings Spanish song and wears a Spanish looking blanket. She also takes off as soon as she can, and her loss isn't missed much by her husband. He regrets the horse she took more than her loss!

The movie packs a lot into under two hours. First, the scenery - even though it's in black and white - is simply gorgeous. No wonder westerns became such a popular genre, with the fascinating rock formations and wide open skies. Next, the characters are great. You really feel each person has a history, a complex character. The banker is all bluster - but something drove him to betraying his business and taking off with the money, deserting his wife and profession. Characters that start the movie believing in something strongly are often made wiser by the end.

Anyone looking to this to get any sense of what the natives were like back in the wild west won't get much to learn from. Most of the time the Indians are represented by an arrow flying in a window or a scary noise outside the window. The Indians are a faceless, ever-present menace.

On the other hand it's really amazing that this film from 1939 survived this long, in any form. It was very nearly lost. It is great to watch this version and then the 1966 remake with Ann-Margret and Bing Crosby. See just what a difference a few decades make in how things are portrayed.

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