Pillars of the Sky

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Pillars of the Sky
Directed by George Marshall
Produced by Robert Arthur
Written by Sam Rolfe (screenplay)
From the novel Frontier Fury by Will Henry
Starring Jeff Chandler
Dorothy Malone
Maureen Hingert
Music by Joseph Gershenson
Cinematography Harold Lipstein A.S.C.
Edited by Milton Carruth, A.C.E.
Release dates
October 12, 1956
Running time
95 mins.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1.5 million (US)[1]

Pillars of the Sky is an American western film in Technicolor and CinemaScope, released by Universal-International on October 12, 1956. Directed by George Marshall, it stars Jeff Chandler and Dorothy Malone, with co-stars Ward Bond, Keith Andes and Lee Marvin.[2]


Oregon Country 1868: Indian natives of many tribes trust Sgt. Emmett Bell, who rides into Dr. Joseph Holden's mission with his scouts. But troop and weapon movement by new U.S. Cavalry commanding officer Col. Steadlow has endangered the peace and angered the chiefs, in particular one called Kamiakin.

An outraged Bell tries to appeal to Steadlow as well as Capt. Tom Gaxton, whose wife Calla was once in love with him. Calla and another woman are taken captive and are rescued with Bell, rekinding their romance.

Cavalry soldiers are massacred by the Indians, and appeals for a truce go in vain. But a particularly bloodthirsty act by Kamiakin results in his being killed by one of his own, whereupon Bell and the chiefs agree to do whatever's necessary to restore the peace.





The film was partly shot on location in Oregon over six weeks. At one stage it was announced the film was going to be directed by John Ford and star John Wayne.[3]

Evaluation in film guides[edit]

Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide gives Pillars of the Sky 2½ stars (out of 4) in a one-sentence write-up which states that "Chandler is apt as swaggering army officer...", with Steven H. Scheuer's Movies on TV also arriving at the 2½ stars (out of 4) rating, deciding that "Western fans will buy this tale of a no-account, hard-drinking, woman-chasing Sgt. who finally sees the error of his ways..."

The Motion Picture Guide makes it unanimous (among the three cited sources), with its 2½-star (out of 5) description of the production as "a relatively satisfying cowboys and Indians film starring Chandler as a cavalry scout who is literally a voice in the wilderness..." and, in conclusion, adds, "[G]ood cast. The outdoor location shooting was done in Oregon".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
  2. ^ Thompson, Howard [under byline: H.H.T.] (October 13, 1956). "Screen: Pillars of the Sky; Western at the Globe Stars Jeff Chandler". New York Times. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Passafiume, Andrea. "Pillars of the Sky", Turner Classic Movies accessed 11 November 2012

External links[edit]