Apache Territory (1958)

Apache Territory (1958)
 
 

Familiar Territory

Rory Calhoun and Barbara Bates in Apache Territory (1958)

As a child I had little Cowboy & Indian figures and typically acted out make believe western battles where the cowboys were pinned down and had to fight their way out of trouble. Well "Apache Territory" is just a big screen version of that imaginary little drama I use to play with a group of cowboys, cavalry men and women pinned down by Apaches and having to wait it out in the hope of getting out alive. And to be honest "Apache Territory" is one of the most routine Cowboy & Indian movies I have ever seen to the point that everything about it seems like it is on auto pilot from the drama as supplies run out to the moments of action as Indians attack.

After discovering a young woman abandoned in the desert Cowboy Logan Cates (Rory Calhoun - The Spoilers) takes her to the safety of Apache Wells where he finds young Cowboy Lonnie Foreman (Tom Pittman) also hiding out. Before long they are joined by more people including Logan's former love Jennifer Fair (Barbara Bates - Town on Trial) and her husband to be Grant Kimbrough (John Dehner) as well as some Cavalry men and an Indian who is the enemy of the Apaches. Pinned down by the Apaches laying in ambush outside tensions rise as Logan suggests they are better of waiting it out and fighting whilst others just want to leave.

Tom Pittman and Carolyn Craig in Apache Territory (1958)

I've lost count at the number of times I've watched this sort of western, the group of people pinned down by Indians and having to wait it out over days as people get picked off, food and water runs short and tensions run high. And to be honest I am probably going to forget watching "Apache Territory" because it is completely ordinary as it works through the text book of situations. Technically there is nothing wrong with it, there is drama, action and even romance but it just feels like everyone including the director is going through the motions delivering a western for money and not because there is any belief in the story.

Now whilst technically there is nothing really wrong with it there are issues most notably the fact we have slim characters and almost zero tension. Part of the drama of "Apache Territory" should be those who don't want to wait it out as in Zimmerman, an angry Cavalry man and also Grant Kimbrough who does not like the fact that Logan and Jennifer were once an item. But that tension never really manifests, there is a fist fight and some skulduggery but it never sparks into life.

Never sparking into life is also the performances and Rory Calhoun, Barbara Bates, Tom Pittman and Carolyn Craig do what is necessary but nothing more. It doesn't help that the characters are as text book as the movie and so are in truth quite boring but even so we are talking auto pilot performances here.

What this all boils down to is that technically there is nothing wrong with "Apache Territory" it works its way through the trapped Cowboys storyline without ever deviating or delivering anything which feels wrong. But it is so ordinary and unimaginative that it is only average and quite forgettable.

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