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A Cavalry captain tries to keep the Indians from getting their hands on Gatling Guns.
In November 1864, at Greensburg, Ohio, a Gatling gun, on its way by train to be tested by the Union army, is stolen by Confederates, who hope to use it to change the course of the war. Boxes containing the parts of the gun, which fires 250 shots per minute, are hidden in the piano of a traveling medicine show wagon driven west by Capt. James S. Simmons, of the Georgia volunteers, masquerading as Jim Farraday, a traveling salesman from Boston, and his cohort Benjy, really Sgt. Benjamin Guderman of Jim's unit. As they perform the code song "Tapioca" in the towns they visit, they receive messages from fellow conspirators with instructions on where to go next. Upon arriving at a stream in the West, they find Nora Curtis, a Yankee nurse to whom they are both attracted, in a hospital wagon stuck in the water. Nora is trying to take her patient, an Indian woman named Lukoa, to Nora's home in Baxter Springs, where she keeps one room as a hospital ward. Nora explains that Lukoa's husband cannot join them, as the Union army has made it a hanging offense for an Indian to cross the river because Confederates, whom she despises, have taught rebellion to the Indians so they will fight the Union army. Jim and Benjy take the women to Baxter Springs, but although Nora is attracted to Jim, when he says he has hired a substitute to fight in the war, she begins to snub him. When Jim and Benjy sing "Tapioca" in Baxter Springs, shopkeeper Anderson Smith writes a message to give them, but he swallows it when Union soldiers, led by Pinkerton detective Frank Kelso, ride into town in search of the stolen Gatling gun. The soldiers raid Smith's store, and he wounds Kelso before he is shot to death. Suspecting Jim, Kelso, after Nora nurses him back to health, sends a telegram to the Boston Pinkerton office and searches the medicine wagon, but does not find the Gatling gun. After Jim hears a dance hall girl sing the "Tapioca" song, he learns that her new beau, Brett Manning, instructed her to sing it. Manning, who mistreats the girl, tells Jim that he worked for Smith bringing horses through Indian territory for the Confederate forces, but says he is not from the South and has only helped them for the money. He offers to take Jim and the gun through Union lines and they agree on a price. After learning that all vehicles leaving town will be searched, Jim and Benjy hide the gun in Nora's hospital wagon, aware that she plans to take Lukoa and her newborn baby back to her village. The next day, Jim's scheme works, as the baby's cries and Nora's snippiness lead the sheriff to let her go without a thorough search. Jim sends Benjy and Manning to catch up to the wagon and plans to rendezvous with them the next day. After Benjy and Manning stop Nora's wagon, Manning shoots and kills Benjy and has Nora drive to Lukoa's village, where he plans to sell the gun to Chief Yellow Hawk. Jim finds his friend's body and buries him, then pursues the hospital wagon on horseback. Kelso, upon receiving word from Boston that the real Jim Farraday was killed in battle two years ago, leads soldiers in pursuit of Jim. After Manning convinces Yellow Hawk that the gun will give his tribe the strength of ten tribes, Yellow Hawk buys it, then hires Manning to operate the gun in an attack on nearby Fort Smith with many other tribes that he hopes to lead. Jim arrives at the Indian village after the warriors have left. He plans to take Nora back to Baxter Springs and then return to his own home, and although she is grateful, she protests that they should warn the fort. He argues that the people at the fort are the same kind as those who burned his home in Atlanta and killed his brother in battle. They sleep next to each other on the same blanket and are abruptly woken up by Kelso and the Union soldiers. When Nora warns them about the attack on Fort Smith, Kelso reveals, to Jim's chagrin, that women and children live with the soldiers at the fort. Outside the fort, Manning and the Indians set up the Gatling gun behind cover. The Indians attack at dawn, setting fire to the fort and mowing down soldiers with the Gatling gun as they attempt to leave. After an Indian scout at the fort reports to the commanding colonel that smoke signals reveal that perhaps a thousand Indians are approaching, the colonel refuses to signal his major on the other side of the ridge to attack because he fears a rout. Kelso and the Union soldiers arrive with Jim and Nora. After locating the Gatling gun, Jim jumps Manning, and Kelso fights the two Indians operating the gun with Manning. As Manning is about to crush Jim's skull with a rock, Jim knifes him to death. Jim and Kelso turn the Gatling gun on the Indians, and when the fort's colonel sees this, he signals his major to attack. The Union forces, supported by the Gatling gun, force the Indians to retreat. After the battle, Nora argues that Kelso should take into consideration Jim's actions. Kelso, who has learned that General Lee's forces are in full retreat, allows Jim to leave. Jim tells Nora that he plans to return to Georgia and fix up his home before he travels west again, but that he will make Baxter Springs his first stop. Nora says she plans to make it his last, and he counters that it will be his next to last and that she will like Atlanta. They embrace and he rides off as she watches.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||Omaha, NE opening: 22 Mar 1954; New Orleans opening: 27 Mar 1954; New York opening: 2 Apr 1954|
|Release Date:||1954||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Distributions Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Panoramic Productions|
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Siege At Red River an oldie but goodie
An entertaining film with some twists and turns. The typical Indian against cavalry with the addition of North against South (near end of Civil War). Van...