The Last Wagon (1956 film)

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The Last Wagon
Lastwagonposter.jpg
Directed by Delmer Daves
Produced by William B. Hawks
Written by James Edward Grant
Delmer Daves
Gwen Bagni Gielgud
Starring Richard Widmark
Felicia Farr
Susan Kohner
Tommy Rettig
Stephanie Griffin
Music by Lionel Newman
Cinematography Wilfred Cline
Edited by Hugh S. Fowler
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) September 21, 1956
Running time 98 min.
Language English
Budget $1,670,000[1]
Box office $1,500,000 (US rentals)[2]

The Last Wagon is a 1956 western film starring Richard Widmark. It was co-written and directed by Delmer Daves and tells a story set during the American Indian Wars: the survivors of an Indian massacre must rely on a man wanted for several murders to lead them out of danger.

Plot[edit]

Sheriff Bull Harper (George Mathews) is taking "Comanche" Todd (Richard Widmark), a white man who has lived most of his life among the Indians, to be tried for the murder of Harper's three brothers. The pair join a wagon train led by Colonel Normand (Douglas Kennedy). Harper's brutal treatment of Todd causes friction with some members of the wagon train. When the sheriff beats a lad for giving Todd a pipe to smoke, Todd takes advantage of the distraction to kill his tormentor with a dropped axe.

Then, while some of the young people sneak away for a late night swim, the Apaches kill everyone else. Todd miraculously survives a fall when the wagon to which he is tied is thrown off a cliff. The Apaches are gathering to avenge the massacre of their own women and children by the whites. It is up to Todd to lead the six other survivors to safety, despite the distrust of some of them. Along the way, he and Jenny (Felicia Farr) fall in love.

Despite saving a small U.S. cavalry detachment from an ambush, Todd is recognized and brought to trial. He reveals that all four Harpers raped and murdered his Comanche wife and killed his two young boys. General Howard takes pity on him and places him in the permanent "custody" of Jenny.

Triva Note Tommy Rettig, who plays Jenny's younger brother Billy, is re-united with Widmark, Rettig played Widmark's son in the 1950 film noir Panic in the Streets.

Cast[edit]

2006 DVD cover

Production[edit]

The film was shot on location in Sedona, AZ, at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon. Director Delmer Daves described the difficulty he had in finding a pristine location for the film, as his previous western, Broken Arrow (1950), had popularized the region.

It was shot in DeLuxe Color and CinemaScope.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p250
  2. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957

External links[edit]