Arrow in the Dust


1h 19m 1954
Arrow in the Dust

Brief Synopsis

A deserter takes on his dead captain's identity to save a wagon train.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Deserter
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Western
Adaptation
Release Date
Apr 25, 1954
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Road to Jacinto by L. L. Foreman (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
7,201ft

Synopsis

After deserting his command, cavalry trooper Bart Laish comes upon the remnants of a wagon train bound for Oregon and discovers that its inhabitants have been massacred by Indians. The only survivor is Major Andy Pepperis, a distant cousin of Laish's who served with him at West Point. With his dying breath, Pepperis appeals to Laish's sense of honor and decency and begs him to find the main train up ahead and lead it to safety at Fort Laramie. Having fled the rigors of army life, Laish remains ambivalent to Pepperis' pleas until he reaches Fort Taylor and finds the men annihilated, the victims of another Indian raid. Finally acceeding to the major's dying wishes, Laish dons the dead man's uniform and catches up to the wagon train. Finding the settlers wounded and the troops decimated, Laish identifies himself as Major Pepperis and assumes command from Lt. Steve King. When Lt. King reports that the wagons have been beseiged by continual Indian raids, Laish decides to cross the mountain pass that night. Laish's command is challenged by Crowshaw, the frontier scout who had previously met Pepperis. When Laish explains that he is carrying out the major's final orders, the two men form an uneasy alliance. Crowshaw then warns Laish about Tillotson, the belligerent owner of the huge trade wagon. As the wagons charge through the pass, they are fired upon by Apaches, causing Crowshaw to wonder why Apache Chief Rasakura has singled out their train for attack. After the Indians are driven off, Christella Burke, one of the wagon owners, insists upon stopping to bury the dead. The train resumes its journey, and Laish and the other troopers are forced to fend off another Indian onslaught, during which Laish is wounded. As Christella tends to Laish's injuries, she apologizes for her earlier defiance. Soon after, two arrows are shot into the camp, symbolizing the banding together of the Apache and Pawnee tribes. Later, when Christella overhears Crowshaw and Laish discussing his true identity, Laish confesses that he is a deserter, but confides that he feels obligated to carry out Pepperis' dying wish. Resentful of Laish's authority, Tillotson's crew boss challenges him, causing Laish to shoot him. Laish then orders Tillotson to leave his cache of liquor behind as bait for the Indians. Laish's ploy works, and as the Indians wallow drunkenly, the wagons continue on in peace. As they near the hill country, Laish informs Crowshaw that he plans to head for Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Crowshaw vehemently denounces him for forsaking his responsibilities. Poised for attack in the hills, the Indians charge the wagons, and Laish sends Lt. King to Fort Laramie for reinforcements. Laish decides to lead the wagons onto the ridge for protection, and Christella, having come to admire Laish's courage, kisses him. That night, as the wagons climb onto the ridge, Laish instructs his men to collect rocks and brush. As the Indians converge on the plain, Laish sets fire to the brush and sends the burning embers spilling onto the Indians below. About to run out of wood, Laish orders that Tillotson's giant wagon be sacrificed for fuel. When Crowshaw approaches the wagon, Tillotson attacks him and Crowshaw slays him with his knife. Upon discovering that the wagon is loaded with guns and ammunition, Crowshaw and Laish realize that the Indians have been following them for the weapons, and they catapult the wagon over the ridge. With the guns' destruction, the Indians retreat. Finally safe, the wagons head for the fort and are met by Lt. King and a troop of reinforcements. Although he knows that he will be arrested for desertion, Laish elects to remain with the wagons. As he reaches the train, Lt. King greets Laish, and after promising to vouch for his loyalty and integrity, asks him to lead the wagons to the fort.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Deserter
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Western
Adaptation
Release Date
Apr 25, 1954
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Road to Jacinto by L. L. Foreman (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
7,201ft

Articles

Arrow in the Dust -


Allied Artists splurged on a star name for this ingeniously plotted pioneer western that seemingly comments on domestic politics. U.S. Cavalry deserter Bart (Sterling Hayden) atones for his dishonor by reluctantly taking charge of a Laramie-bound wagon train threatened by marauding Apache Indians. To do so, Bart assumes the identity of a fallen Major, a deception tentatively accepted by the train's scout Crowshaw (Tom Tully). Bart, Crowshaw and Lt. King (Keith Larsen) see the settlers safely through wave after wave of Indian attacks. Also intuiting Bart's deception is the beautiful pioneer lass Christella (Coleen Gray, Hayden's costar in the later Kubrick classic The Killing). Romantically interested, she prefers to investigate his troubled motivations rather than turn him in. Providing more comment on the coward-hero is the song 'The Weary Stranger', sung at intervals by an Army private (country western star Jimmy Wakely). The Apaches' reason for attacking is a surprise for all: the train's wealthy civilian leader is secretly transporting a cache of weapons for sale to an enemy Indian tribe. Veteran western director Lesley Selander was known for speed and efficiency, qualities necessary for Allied Artists' first production in Technicolor. Critics complimented the contribution of veteran actor Tom Tully, while noting the almost wall-to-wall Indian battles. At this time Sterling Hayden was reconsidering his friendly testimony to HUAC, a personal decision that he would publicly reproach himself for a few years later. When the troubled Bart considers deserting the settlers of the wagon train, he perhaps remembers the last words of the dying Major: "There must still be some good in you."

By Glenn Erickson
Arrow In The Dust -

Arrow in the Dust -

Allied Artists splurged on a star name for this ingeniously plotted pioneer western that seemingly comments on domestic politics. U.S. Cavalry deserter Bart (Sterling Hayden) atones for his dishonor by reluctantly taking charge of a Laramie-bound wagon train threatened by marauding Apache Indians. To do so, Bart assumes the identity of a fallen Major, a deception tentatively accepted by the train's scout Crowshaw (Tom Tully). Bart, Crowshaw and Lt. King (Keith Larsen) see the settlers safely through wave after wave of Indian attacks. Also intuiting Bart's deception is the beautiful pioneer lass Christella (Coleen Gray, Hayden's costar in the later Kubrick classic The Killing). Romantically interested, she prefers to investigate his troubled motivations rather than turn him in. Providing more comment on the coward-hero is the song 'The Weary Stranger', sung at intervals by an Army private (country western star Jimmy Wakely). The Apaches' reason for attacking is a surprise for all: the train's wealthy civilian leader is secretly transporting a cache of weapons for sale to an enemy Indian tribe. Veteran western director Lesley Selander was known for speed and efficiency, qualities necessary for Allied Artists' first production in Technicolor. Critics complimented the contribution of veteran actor Tom Tully, while noting the almost wall-to-wall Indian battles. At this time Sterling Hayden was reconsidering his friendly testimony to HUAC, a personal decision that he would publicly reproach himself for a few years later. When the troubled Bart considers deserting the settlers of the wagon train, he perhaps remembers the last words of the dying Major: "There must still be some good in you." By Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Gambler, gunfighter and now deserter?
- Maj. Andy Pepperis
Yeah
- Bart Laish
I looks like you added color to the list.
- Maj. Andy Pepperis
We're not moving?
- Christella Burke
Yes.
- Bart Laish
Tonight?
- Christella Burke
Tonight.
- Bart Laish
But we can't Major.
- Christella Burke
It doesn't matter what you've been or what you've done. There must still be some good left in you. Or have you changed so much, Bart?
- Maj. Andy Pepperis
It's clearly common knowledge out here that most Indians do not like to fight at night. An Indian killed at night, they believe, wanders forever in darkness.
- Bart Laish
But after your father died, why didn't you go back home?
- Bart Laish
Delaware is small. It's crowded with too many memories.
- Christella Burke

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was The Deserter. This was Allied Artists' first domestically produced Technicolor picture.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring April 1954

Released in United States Spring April 1954