Cast & Crew
Fred F. Sears
Sgt. James Marlowe of the U.S. Cavalry is assigned to pose as a civilian wagon train driver in order to transport a cargo of rifles through dangerous Apache territory to Fort Collins. With the two men under his command, privates Archibald "Peaceful" Allen and George W. Davis, Marlowe stops at a trading outpost in Spanish Bit, which is run by Gita, an Apache, and Gonzales, her abusive husband. There, traveling salesman Phineas J. "Parson" Canfield introduces the men to Flaxy and Cora, two available mail order brides who are traveling with him. The soldiers' identities are revealed when Cora recognizes Peaceful as her missing boyfriend and, despite Peaceful's protestations to the contrary, loudly insists that he is a soldier. Canfield becomes suspicious, surreptitiously searches the wagons and discovers the rifles. Willing to betray the soldiers for gold, Canfield asks Gita to take him to a renegade Apache, Black Eagle, with whom she is secrety aligned, but Gita stabs him in the back and then leaves Spanish Bit to join Black Eagle. As Marlowe and his men prepare to leave, a drunken brawl breaks out between Gonzales and a stranger who has spent the last several days drinking whiskey at the outpost. Much to his disgust, Marlowe learns that the drunken man is Lt. Richard Arlington Farraday, who is on his way to Fort Collins to assume the post to which Marlowe had aspired. Because he is outranked, a disgruntled Marlowe must take Farraday with him to Fort Collins, together with Flaxy and Cora, who refuse to stay in Spanish Bit once Canfield's body has been discovered. As they ride to rendezvous with a cavalry detail that is to escort them to the fort, Marlowe makes no secret of his contempt for Farraday and later throws out Farraday's supply of whiskey. Before Marlowe can reach the detail, it is wiped out by Black Eagle's warriors, who were alerted by Gita. Farraday and Marlowe have a heated argument over the best strategy for getting through Apache territory alive. Flaxy, who is attracted to the sensitive and troubled Farraday, later learns that he was drinking to forget his dead fiancée. The following day, the group stops to pick up a wounded Apache lying in the road and takes him prisoner, unaware that Black Eagle has assigned him to sabotage the group. That night, Davis, who was demoted to private from major after making an error of judgment during an Indian battle, is assigned by Marlowe to the most important watch post. Marlowe, whose own father was falsely accused of wrongdoing by the military, wants to give Davis a chance to prove himself. Once everyone is asleep, the Apache, Running Horse, stabs Davis and rolls his unconscious body into a ditch, then drains off the group's water supply. Unable to find Davis, Marlowe and Farraday move on, but are soon stopped by a dust storm. After Running Horse stabs Marlowe in the leg while trying to escape, Farraday kills the Indian. Farraday then assumes command from the injured Marlowe and, upon learning that they have run out of water, decides to take a short cut through Massacre Canyon to reach water. Aware that the journey through the canyon will be dangerous, Farraday orders Peaceful to take the women back to Spanish Bit. On the way back, Peaceful and the women find a severely injured Davis lying in the road, and he tells them that he has overheard Black Eagle and Gita planning to trap the soldiers in Massacre Canyon. In order to clear his name, the dying Davis begs Peaceful to take him to Marlowe so that he can warn him himself, and Peaceful agrees. Although Marlowe and Farraday are already under fire when Peaceful arrives with Davis in tow, Davis dies a hero. Flaxy, Cora and Peaceful help defend the wagons against the Apaches, but they are vastly outnumbered. When Marlowe remembers a nearby tunnel out of the canyon through which they may be able to escape, they load all the guns and some dynamite on one wagon and head for the tunnel. As Peaceful drives the wagon through the narrow tunnel, Farraday throws sticks of dynamite directly into the path of the pursuing Apaches, while Marlowe shoots at them. After the wagon makes it safely to the other side, the tunnel collapses, killing Black Eagle, Gita and their warriors. As they near the much-needed water, Farraday and Marlowe realize that they have grown to respect each other. Cora and Peaceful are reunited, and Flaxy looks forward to a new life with Farraday as they all head toward Fort Collins.
Fred F. Sears
Robert B. Williams
The working title of this film was Massacre at Moccasin Pass. Although copyright records indicate that the film was released in sepia, the print viewed was black and white. A Daily Variety news item dated May 6, 1953 reported that the film was to be based on an original story by Tom Reed, who had also been hired to write the screenplay; however, Reed is not credited onscreen or in reviews, and his contribution to the finished film has not been determined.