Presented by Frank J. Carroll. Directed by John G. Adolfi. Scenario: Anthony Paul Kelly. Photographed by: George Benoit, Benjamin Kline, Victor Shuler, F.L. Hoefler.
Cast: Robert Frazer (Cardelanche), Clara Bow (Miriam), Robert Edeson (General Kinnard), Johnny Walker (Lieutenant Parkman), Walter McGrail (Lieutenant Harper), Gaston Glass (Captain Howard), Helen Ferguson (Nestina), Ruth Stonehouse (Mrs. Custer), Martha Francis (Harriett Kinnard), Florence Crawford (Mrs. Harper).
WESTERN MELODRAMA. Source: A.B. Heath, "The Scarlet West" (publication undetermined).
Cardelanche, a son of an Indian chief, has been educated in the East, and he returns to his reservation and encounters the hostility of his people, who believe that he has turned his back on his own race. When Cardelance saves a detachment of cavalry from a gang of renegade Indians, he is made a captain in the United States Army. He falls in love with Miriam, the daughter of the commandant of Fort Remington further cutting himself off from his own people. Lieutenant Parkman, who is also in love with Miriam, is demoted to the ranks when he gets into a fight over the girl. Cardelanche's tribe goes on the warpath and slaughters the troops of General Custer. Cardelanche then decides that his true allegiance lies with his own people, and he gives up both Miriam and his commission, returning to the hills where his ancestors once lived and fought. (Information from "The American Film Institute Catalogue of Feature Films.")
But it is not only for the youngsters. At the Broadway a hard-boiled audience apparently enjoyed every minute of it, and conclusively showed their approval at the finish.
Produced with the aid of several Colorado historical and civic societies, from the standpoint of authenticity it is probably as carefully presented as any of the big historical westerns. Besides its stirring story of Custer's last stand and the other incidents of the redskin uprisings in the 70's, the story tells a genuinely absorbing tale of life and love in a frontier army garrison. This picture only falls a bit under in comedy relief and expert scenario.
The Indians as a race are the villains of the film, but one of their number is the real hero. He is Cardelanche, educated, intelligent and holding a captain's commission in the army. He falls in love with the flirtatious daughter of the post commander, but realizes, when trouble breaks out between the whites and reds, that he is still a member of the latter people. After a struggle with himself he decides his place is with his own tribes, and, although he first saves the garrison from a treacherous Indian attack, he gives the girl to the young white lieutenant, who worships her, and returns to the haunts of his fore-fathers.
Incidental to the plot, but strikingly done, are the scenes in which Custer and his men make their last glorious stand. It is very effectively screened, with several thousand Indians circling around the ever-decreasing detachment, and the four photographers employed by the producer earned whatever was paid them. Unfortuneately, however, the dust from the myriad horses' hoofs raised clouds that sometimes blur the action.
A glance at the cast shows some seven or eight really notable screen names. Robert Fraser is astonishingly good as the Indian hero, probably the best part he has yet had. Such well-known players as Ruth Stonehouse and Gaston Glass have merely bits. The name of the actor playing Custer is not given-just as well, since he is the only unimpressive one in the cast. McGrail, Edeson and the Misses Bow and Ferguson do sterling work.
First National evidently knew what it was doing when it took over this inependent. The small share of comedy and the rather jerky and badly cut scenario are going to handicap it, of course, but ther is plenty there to make it a box-office wow if exploited properly. Any list of better present-day pictures should include it, as it treats a worthy American subject in clear, direct and meritorious fashion."