DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE BLACK DAKOTAS (director/writer: Ray Nazarro; screenwriter: Ray Buffum/story by DaVallon Scott and Buffum; cinematographer: Ellis W. Carter; editor: Aaron Stell; music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff; cast: Gary Merrill (Zachary Paige aka Brock Marsh), John War Eagle (War Cloud,), Jay Silverheels ( Black Buffalo), Noah Beery Jr. ("Gimpy" Joe Woods), Fay Roope (John Lawrence), Wanda Hendrix (Ruth Lawrence), John Bromfield (Mike Daugherty), Peter Whitney (Grimes), James Griffith (Warren), Howard Wendell (Judge Horatio Bake), Robert Simon (Marshal Whit Collins), George Keymas (Spotted Deer); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Wallace MacDonald; Columbia Pictures; 1954)

"A forgettable western that is flatly directed by Ray Nazarro."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A forgettable western that is flatly directed by Ray Nazarro ("Al Jennings of Oklahoma"/"Indian Uprising"/"The Hired Gun"), that shows some life during its action sequences.
It's based on the Civil War story of betrayal by
Ray Buffum and DaVallon Scott, as screenwriter Buffum provides the dull dialogue.

It's set during the Civil War, in the Dakotas, in the Sioux territory. President Lincoln promises peace to the Sioux Indians, who side with the Union, in order to free up the soldiers from guarding the whites in town and thereby use them to fight in the war, and sends by stage his eastern emissary Zachary Paige with the peace treaty (that gives the Indians their hunting grounds, no white settlers and $100,000 in gold). But renegade Confederate agent Brock Marsh (Gary Merrill) kills the stage driver and Paige and goes into town posing as the vic, telling the marshal (Robert Simon) and the judge (Howard Wendell) the President sent him to make peace with the Sioux leader War Cloud (John War Eagle).

When John Lawrence (Fay Roope), a Reb sympathizer is hanged for trying to incite the Sioux to war, his feisty daughter Ruth (Wanda Hendrix) rails against the town but refuses to leave. Her boyfriend Mike (John Bromfield), the peaceful friend of War Cloud and stage-line owner, protects her from the lynch-minded townies like the hissable Grimes (Peter Whitney). 

"Gimpy" Joe Woods (Noah Beery Jr.) knows the emissary is a phony and identifies himself to Paige as a Reb cohort of Lawrence, and they secretly team up so the phony Paige could meet the other Rebs in town.

Things change among the group of true-to-the cause fanatic Confederate sympathizers when they realize Brock is only out for himself, as the greedy man thinks the South's cause is a lost one and aims to steal the shipment of Indian gold for himself and not give it to the rebel cause.

Jay Silverheels, the Tonto from the popular Lone Ranger TV series, plays a Sioux who doesn't want peace with the whites because he doesn't trust them and hopes to take over the leadership from the elderly chief  War Cloud and start a war with the whites.

The premise might be slightly unorthodox and promising, but the result is only a second-rate B western.

REVIEWED ON 12/16/2013       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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