Brave Warrior (1952)
More Broken Movie than Broken Arrow
Admittedly I am no history buff but even someone like me can see that "Brave Warrior" whilst set just prior to the war of 1812 between the United States and the British Empire it is not a factual western. Whilst we have characters plucked from the history books a factual recreation of the Battle of Tippecanoe is not what this movie is all about. The point of "Brave Warrior" comes from the fact that it came just 2 years after James Stewart starred in "Broken Arrow" and does a similar job of portraying the Shawnee who follow chief Tecumseh as a peaceful tribe rather than just savages. Unfortunately not only does this side of the movie become a little corny but the other side which is about who is siding with who comes across more complicated than it really is
As Governor of Indiana William Henry Harrison (James Seay) tries to make sure peace is kept with the Shawnee lead by Tecumseh (Jay Silverheels) he knows that those who support the British Empire are trying to cause trouble and break the peace. And that is the reason why Steve Ruddell (Jon Hall) returns as the Governor wants him to find out who it is in the town of Vincennes who is passing secrets on to Gen. Proctor (Leslie Denison). Having been raised alongside Tecumseh in Tippecanoe he and Steve are best friends but they are also rivals as both have a thing for Laura MacGregor (Christine Larsen) but they both also have to deal with Tecumseh's brother The Prophet (Michael Ansara) who hates Americans and wants to be the chief of the tribe.
Now "Brave Warrior" sets up the story that Shawnee chief Tecumseh is on the side of the United States whilst his brother The Prophet is on the side of the British Empire but the truth is that Tecumseh didn't side with the United States. Anyway, ignoring that factual inconsistency and many more what "Brave Warrior" is about is portraying the Shawnee and Tecumseh as nice guys who believe in peace. We get a back story that as children Tecumseh played with Steve Ruddell and Laura MacGregor which allowed him from an early age to understand the American way and make him a friend as a Chief. Unfortunately this whole side is seriously corny and so when ever we have talk of childhood friendships or peace it borders on the cringe worthy.
Now whilst we have this weak play on Tecumseh being a good guy we have the story of the trouble going on as Laura's father Shayne is secretly on the side of Gen. Proctor and the British, helping them organize attacks thanks to the fact he is also a friend of Gov. Harrison and privy to his plans. And so we have Ruddell who returns from Washington on a mission to try and find out who is passing on secrets to those who sympathise with the British and you guessed it having to face the fact that his old friend Shayne is in cahoots with the enemy. Oh and just for good measure throw in a weak romantic subplot where Tecumseh is in love with Laura but Laura and Steve are also in love with each other. It is all quite weak and boring and unfortunately the action does little too spice it up; in fact the action is routine and also boring.
And I wish I could find some thing to praise but even when it comes to the performances it is a bit of a dull bore. Jon Hall just doesn't really do handsomely heroic as Steve Ruddell whilst Jay Silverheels seems very ill at ease as Tecumseh especially with dialogue which just sounds unnatural, whilst the word propaganda may have been around hearing Tecumseh and Ruddell talk of propaganda is almost comical. The closest there is to a good performance in "Brave Warrior" comes from Michael Ansara as The Prophet which is more to do with the fact that he has very few lines and just has to look really angry all the time.
What this all boils down to is that "Brave Warrior" is a forgettable 1950s western which takes its lead from the history books but then alters the facts. In truth all it is, is a western which jumped on the "Broken Arrow" band wagon but doesn't do a good job of it.
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