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Western films, from silent to today

Stand at Apache River (1953)

The Stand at Apache River (1953) poster Stephen McNally is Lane Dakota, a sheriff on the trail of a killer named Greiner. Lane catches Greiner after he’s been wounded by Apaches and takes him to a ferry station to recover or die.

Dakota figures he’ll wind up dead either way. He’s convinced Greiner is guilty of killing the man who raised him, and he doesn’t need a jury to prove the wounded man’s guilt.

Then the Apache under Cara Blanca show up at the station. They want assurances from Col. Morsby (Hugh Marlowe) that they won’t be forced back to the San Carlos reservation and that he won’t seek retribution against the tribe for five white settlers that Indian braves are accused of killing.

The Apache-hating Morsby refuses to negotiate. So the Apache begin a siege of the stage station and its small band of occupants.

They include Valerie Kendrick (Julia Adams), a pretty woman heading West to marry a man she isn’t sure she loves; Ann Kenyon (Jaclynne Greene), who hates the land and hard life her husband has led her to; and Hatcher, a young man who loves Ann and hangs around just waiting for the day she tires of her husband.

Eventually, Cara Blance winds up in the Apache River Station as well. He’s been wounded and helped inside by Dakota. But even that isn’t enough to ensure survival of any of the whites inside.


The mix of characters inside the stage station and the dynamics that creates when bullets aren’t whizzing and fire arrows aren’t flying makes this a watchable B Western.

The film also benefits from it location. A ferry separates the Apache from the station, at least at first. That station is built up against steep cliffs.

Unfortunately, the movie also suffers from another blustery one-note performance from Hugh Marlowe and an ending that’s almost sure to strike you as silly.

Hugh O’Brian plays Ann’s husband, who arrives at the station just in time to help fight off the final Apache attack; Forrest Lewis plays Deadhorse, the old-timer who operates the ferry.

Hugh Marlowe as Col. Morsby, Hugh O'Brien as Hatcher, Julie Adams as Valerie Kendrick and Stephen McNally as Lane Dakota in The Stand at Apache River (1953)Directed by:
Lee Sholem

Stephen McNally … Lane Dakota
Julie Adams … Valerie Kendrick
Jaclynne Greene … Ann Kenyon
Hugh O’Brian … Tom Kenyon
Jack Kelly … Hatcher
Forrest Lewis … Deadhorse
Hugh Marlowe … Col. Morsby
Russell Johnson … Greiner
Edgar Barrier … Cara Blanca

Runtime: 77 min.

Memorable lines:

Valerie Kendrick: “What about that wounded man?”
Ann Kenyon: “You get used to everything around here, especially the wounded and the dying. You just get used to it.”

Lane Dakota: “Don’t let them throw you into a panic. Those Indians won’t attack unless they’re stirred up.”
Col. Morsby: “They don’t need stirring up. We scattered them from Mexico to California. We broke their ranks and they reformed. We burned their villages and they lived in caves. They have a will to live, a passion for life that shames any white man. It never dies. Nothing destroys the Apache but death — total, complete.”

Julie Adams as Valerie Kendrick with Jaclynne Greene as Ann Kenyon in The Stand at Apache River (1953)Lane Dakota, about the colonel: “He says you’ve broken the law.”
Cara Blanca: “Your law is like a twig, bent this way and that as you want.”

Valerie Kendrick: “If you weren’t guilty, then why did you run?”
Greiner: “From him? Anybody would have run. Anybody.”

Col. Morsby, after the wounded chief has been helped into the stage station: “Are you going to help him before he does what you want?”
Lane Dakota: “Sure, why not?
Col. Morsby: “Before he makes them stop fighting?”
Lane Dakota: “I don’t use a man’s life to make deals. Any man’s life.”

Valerie Kendrick: “Being loved isn’t enough, is it? Being loved and not loving back is like being alone. Or is it because I feel so frightened that I feel alone.”

Lane Dakota, when the Apache don’t call off the attack: “Savages!”
Apache Chief Cara Blanca: “As you are. As all men if revenge be the only reason to live or die.”

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