6.8/10
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58 user 19 critic

Cheyenne Autumn (1964)

Trailer
4:34 | Trailer
The Cheyenne, tired of broken U.S. government promises, head for their ancestral lands but a sympathetic cavalry officer is tasked to bring them back to their reservation.

Director:

John Ford

Writers:

Mari Sandoz (suggested by "Cheyenne Autumn"), James R. Webb (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Widmark ... Capt. Thomas Archer
Carroll Baker ... Deborah Wright
Karl Malden ... Capt. Wessels
Sal Mineo ... Red Shirt
Dolores del Rio ... Spanish Woman (as Dolores Del Rio)
Ricardo Montalban ... Little Wolf
Gilbert Roland ... Dull Knife
Arthur Kennedy ... Doc Holliday
James Stewart ... Wyatt Earp
Edward G. Robinson ... Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz
Patrick Wayne ... 2nd Lt. Scott
Elizabeth Allen ... Guinevere Plantagenet
John Carradine ... Major Jeff Blair
Victor Jory ... Tall Tree
Mike Mazurki ... Senior First Sergeant
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Storyline

When the government agency fails to deliver even the meager supplies due by treaty to the proud Cheyenne tribe in their barren desert reserve, the starving Indians have taken more abuse than it's worth and break it too by embarking on a 1,500 miles journey back to their ancestral hunting grounds. US Cavalry Capt. Thomas Archer is charged with their retrieval, but during the hunt grows to respect their noble courage, and decides to help them. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Now the mightiest true adventure of all! Filmed by 6-time Academy Award winner John Ford...with a massive all-star cast! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Western

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 October 1964 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Long Flight See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,200,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,980
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Mono (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Spencer Tracy was first cast as Secretary of the Interior Karl Shultz, but he had a heart attack and was replaced by Edward G. Robinson. His scenes were entirely photographed in studios, including the climactic meeting scene between Shultz and the Cheyenne chiefs, in which the background had to be done with screen process. See more »

Goofs

There are no mountains in Nebraska. During the Fort Robinson sequence, mountains are visible, whereas Nebraska has no mountains. See more »

Quotes

Wyatt Earp: Say, you're the doctor around here. How come I always have to perform all the complicated operations?
Doc Holliday: You know I am a dentist, not a doctor. Wait until somebody shoot him in the teeth.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Many television prints run 145 minutes, and omit the scene with James Stewart as Wyatt Earp. The video release is the full 154-minute version. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

The Yellow Rose of Texas
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played on the banjo during the saloon
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Unfortunate Western Misfire
12 November 2007 | by dglinkSee all my reviews

Unfortunately, given the subject matter and the director, "Cheyenne Autumn" fails to achieve the greatness of its aspirations. Injustice to Native Americans has along tragic history, and the topic deserved a soaring film that brought those crimes to a broad audience. After years of depicting Native Americans as the villains, John Ford was certainly the right director to cast a sympathetic eye on their plight, and the film has many grand sequences that are reminiscent of Ford's finest westerns. The brilliant camera work of William Clothier captures the majesty of Monument Valley and often bathes the mountains and characters in the warm glow of sunsets.

For some reason, Ford felt that Latino actors were appropriate for the roles of Native Americans, and Ricardo Montalban, Gilbert Roland, and Dolores del Rio do achieve a measure of dignity as members of the long-suffering Cheyenne tribe. While Carroll Baker tries hard as a Quaker woman who accompanies the Cheyenne on an arduous trek back to their homeland, her bleached blonde hair, immaculate make-up, and voice undercut her efforts. The work of composer, Alex North, also sounds out of place. Best known for his scores for "Spartacus" and "Cleopatra," North's music here evokes Roman legions rather than the U.S. cavalry.

However, the biggest flaw in the film is a misconceived episode in the middle that features James Stewart, Arthur Kennedy, and John Carradine. As Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, Stewart and Kennedy perform a comedy routine that jars with the solemnity of the previous scenes. Indeed, the entire Dodge City sequence is a western comedy, and viewers would be justified in thinking that some film reels were mislabeled and an entire sequence from another film had been inserted accidentally. Whatever dignity and concern was established in the film's first hour are destroyed when the action moves from the Cheyenne to Earp and Dodge City.

"Cheyenne Autumn" was likely conceived as a follow-up to the successful "How the West Was Won." John Ford was one of the directors of that Cinerama film; Carroll Baker, Karl Malden, James Stewart, and Richard Widmark are featured in both films; and the ads for the two westerns are strikingly similar. Widmark anchors "Cheyenne Autumn" and provides a narration much as Spencer Tracey did for "How the West Was Won." However, the earlier movie was a rousing adventure with a great score and an uplifting theme of westward expansion. Despite an overture and intermission, "Cheyenne Autumn" is a small, sober tale of racial injustice that has been stretched out and embellished with a jarring music score and a schizophrenic mix of comedy and tragedy that lays waste to some fine epic moments.


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