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Western films, from silent to today

Pony Soldier (1952)

Pony Soldier (1952) posterTyrone Power is Constable Duncan MacDonald of the Northwest Mounted Police, a young Mountie given a dangerous mission with very ltitle help on just his second assignment.

When the Cree Indians break reservation and slip below the border to hunt buffalo, they kidnap two whites to ensure safe passage back to Canada.

MacDonald is the man sent to free the hostages and guide the tribe back to its “reserve.” His only help: a half-breed scout Natayo Smith, who’s willing to take on the risk, in exchange for a new rifle, a couple of blankets and a large copper pot for his wife.

It seems a pretty daunting chore, made all the more so by a war-happy chief (Cameron Mitchell as Konah) and the male prisoner (Robert Horton as Jess Calhoun), eager to kill any Indian he can get his hands on.

The other prisoner is an attractive female (Penny Edwards) whose father was killed during the same attack in which she was kidnapped.

Review:

The film opens with a Cavalry-Indian battle scene lifted from 1944’s “Buffalo Bill” and goes downhill from there.

Natayo Smith spends the film spouting ridiculous lines. MacDonald gets his way with the Indians way too easily. In the process, a young Indian boy adopts him as an idol, which leads to the film’s beyond-silly climax. Speaking of silly, there’s also a groan-worthy mirage scene you have to see to believe.

Penny Edwards got her start in series Westerns, including a couple of Roy Rogers vehicles. Here, she’s nearly killed, nearly married to Konah’s brother and nearly burned at the stake.

This marked one of the first major roles for Robert Horton. He’d go on to star in a pair of Western TV series, as Flint McCullough in “Wagon Train” (1957-62) and the lead character in “A Man Called Shenandoah.” (1965-66). Cameron Mitchell made many Westerns; this was his only outing as an Indian brave.

Tyrone Power as Duncan MacDonald and Penny Edwards as Emerald Neeley in Pony Soldier (1952) Directed by:
Joseph M. Newman

Cast:
Tyrone Power … Duncan MacDonald
Cameron Mitchell … Konah
Thomas Gomez …Natayo Smith
Robert Horton … Jess Calhoun
Penny Edwards … Emerald Neeley
Anthony Numkena … Comes Running
Stuart Randall … Standing Bear
Adeline De Walt Reynolds … White Moon
Howard Petrie … Inspector Frazier
Stuart Randall … Standing Bear

Runtime: 82 min.

Memorable lnes:

Indian woman: “Where are you going, Natayo, my husband?”
Natayo: “Across the medicine line to see the new pony soldiers at Fort Walsh. This evil that has happened to these ranchers may be good fortune for us.”

Duncan MacDonald, looking down on an enormous Cree camp: “You told Inspector Frazier Standing Bear’s Crees were cut to pieces.”
Natayo: “Natayo make big mistake. Sometimes even when smart beaver cut down tree, tree fall on beaver.”

Standing Bear: “The pony soldier speaks with the tongue of the snake that rattles.”
Duncan MacDonald: “It is Standing Bear who speaks with a forked tongue!”

Jess Calhoun: “You think all you’ve got to do to get those Indians to do what you say is to go out and talk with them?”
Duncan MacDonald: “I have no choice except to get them to talk.”
Calhoun: “Talk with an Indian? Take it from me, from Jess Calhoun, the only talk the Indian understands is hot lead in his belly.”

Emerald Neeley: “I just don’t understand you, Jess.”
Jess Calhoun: “You aren’t required to.”

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