Learning the Indian Way
Indian Agent John Philip Clum (Audie Murphy - To Hell and Back) arrives in San Carlos, Arizona on a mission to try and broker a new sort of peace deal. As a peaceful man Clum wants to give the Indians an element of autonomy which is met with by suspicion from everyone. But his peace talks are not Clums only issue when Apache widow Tianay (Anne Bancroft - The Last Frontier) falls for him despite the fact he is already with Mary Dennison (Pat Crowley).
"Walk the Proud Land" proves something about Audie Murphy, the war hero turned actor ended up typecast and in a rare movie where he didn't play to type it doesn't feel right. What I mean by that is in "Walk the Proud Land" stars as the hero of the movie life you would expect except this time he is a man without a gun, a man of peace who talks rather than quick draws. It feels like it is missing something as whilst there is some action including a couple of fist fights it is different to other Audie Murphy westerns.
But that leads me to the next issue and again one of expectation as "Walk the Proud Land" looks like an Audie Murphy western where in truth it is a western biopic. But then a 1950s western biopic plays pretty much like a normal western. So what that really means is that we have less action than you expect and a dramatization which you question how much is the story of John Clum and how much is the work of the western scriptwriters.
The sad thing is that whilst "Walk the Proud Land" struggles both as a biopic and a western it is interesting and features a nice performance from Audie Murphy. I wouldn't go ad far as to say it was something new from Murphy as it was pretty much what we saw Murphy do in other westerns but with no gun attached to hip. Who makes a bigger impression is Anne Bancroft whose short dark hair, bright white eyes and tanned skin to play Indian widow Tianay is visually striking and she fills her character with warmth.
What this all boils down to is that "Walk the Proud Land" is both an interesting and entertaining western. But it does feel that as a biopic it is more about the entertainment than the detail and as an Audie Murphy Western the lack of a gun makes it feel incomplete.