Column South


1h 22m 1953

Brief Synopsis

As Lt. Jed Sayre struggles to prevent pre-Civil War tensions and a racist commanding officer from triggering war between the U.S. Cavalry and Navajo Indians, he finds his efforts are being undermined by the machinations of Confederate sympathizers.

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 1953
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 20 May 1953
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Apple Valley, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,582ft

Synopsis

In Jan 1861, Jed Sayre, a lieutenant in the U.S. Cavalry and commander of New Mexico's Fort Union, is ordered to turn over command of the post to the ruthless Capt. Lee Whitlock, who has just arrived from Mississippi with his sister Marcy. Whitlock orders Jed to bring order to the post and tells him that his friendly association with the nearby Navajo Indians must come to an end. During Whitlock and Marcy's first night at the fort, Marcy screams in horror when she sees an Indian peering into her room. Jed and Lt. Chalmers try to quell Marcy's fears by formally introducing her to the Indian, Joe Copper Face, but she runs away in fright and loathing. One day, Whitlock is presented with the body of a dead prospector who was scalped near the fort, and, assuming it to be the act of Navajos, orders Chief Menguito to turn over the murderers. Jed tries to convince Whitlock that scalping is not a Navajo practice, but his argument is rejected. At a nearby saloon, Jed and Chalmers uncover evidence that the murdered man was killed for his gold pouch by fellow prospector Tom Kehler. After Kehler confesses to the murder, Jed and Chalmers ride into the hills in search of Whitlock, who is about to lead his soldiers in an assault on the Indians to avenge the death of the prospector. Jed and Chalmers arrive at the battle site in time to inform Whitlock that Kehler confessed, and a bloody battle is averted. Later, Jed takes Whitlock to meet Menguito, but the peaceful introduction turns violent when a renegade Navajo engages Whitlock in a fistfight. Menguito apologizes for the incident, but warns Whitlock that his short temper may result in war between the Indians and the whites. Later, at the fort, Marcy insults the visiting Menguito and tells Jed that she still hates the "red-skinned savages." However, Marcy eventually realizes that Jed is right in respecting the Indians, and that he probably saved her brother's life by preventing the battle from taking place. She apologizes to Jed for her behavior, and then indicates that she is in love with him. Meanwhile, at the headquarters of the Ninth Military District in Santa Fe, Union General B. N. Stone, a traitor to the Army, tells local politicians that a civil war is imminent. While visiting Fort Union, Stone persuades Whitlock, a fellow Southerner, to turn traitor with him and join the south. Leaving the fort with only a few soldiers to defend it, Whitlock leads his regiment into the wilderness to meet up with other Confederate outfits. When Jed finds evidence that Whitlock is conspiring with Stone to desert the Union, he exposes Whitlock and returns to the fort with loyal Union soldiers. Jed and his soldiers arrive back at the fort just as Menguito and the Navajos are about to capture it, and they soon find themselves engaged in a desperate battle to defend it. Things look bad for Jed and the defenders of the fort, until Whitlock, who has had a change of heart, returns to fight on the side of the Cavalry. A single act of bravery by Whitlock saves the fort, and the Indians are surrounded. Whitlock resigns as commander of Fort Union, leaving it under the control of Jed, who will marry Marcy.

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 1953
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 20 May 1953
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Apple Valley, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,582ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although Ray Collins' character is listed onscreen as "Storey," he is called "Stone" in the film. According to an August 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, some scenes were shot on location in Apple Valley, CA. Although a July 1952 Hollywood Reporter item adds William Reynolds to the cast, his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.