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The mid-18th century: Because the white men have frequently broken
peace treaties with the Indians, Chief Pontiac (Lon Chaney jr), generally
a man of peace, sees himself forced to lay Fort Detroit under siege with
his Ottawa tribe. But thanks to his white brother, scout McIntire (Lex
Barker) a truce can be brokered with Major Gladwin (Roy Roberts) of
the Fort, himself a compassionate and peaceloving man.
Everything seems to be fine ... until the reinforcements arrive, and
Colonel von Weber (Berry Kroeger), the Hessian leader of the
reinforcements who thanks to the chain of command also takes over the
fort, will hear nothing of a peace with these savages, as he sees them as
mere beasts one may kill at will. Only when he hears his troops are
outnumbered does he refrain from a direct attack ... he instead sends the
Ottawas blankets as a gift - blankets contaminated with small pox. And
when McIntire protests, von Weber has him arrested and arranges for his
execution But McIntire can escape of course, heads back to the Ottawas -
who are by now in the middle of a small pox epidemic - and tells them of
the white man's treachery ... even if that means that the braves of the
tribe are soon even after him, and he has to make an escape back to the
McIntire arrives just in time to see von Weber and his men leaving, to
defeat the Indians for good ... which is madness of course, as von Weber
and company are still vastly outnumbered, and the Indians know the
territory while von Weber and his men don't - whings that will not go into
von Weber's narrow-minded head, who feels himself vastly superior to these
Despite of what von Weber would have done to him (have him shot that
is), McIntire goes after von Weber to warn him and to get him back ... but
to no avail, von Weber just shoots McIntire in cold blood, then he and his
men are attacked by the Ottawas , and effortlessly defeated. But Chief
Pontiac doesn't just kill von Weber, he has him tied to a stake, and
covered with one of the blankets von Weber has sent the Ottawas ... and a
few days later, von Weber dies from small pox.
McIntire meanwhile was nursed back to health by the Ottawas, and with
McIntire out of the way, Chief Pontiac even agrees to make peace with
Major Gladwin of the fort ...
Helen Westcott plays Lex Barker's love interest.
Done rather on the cheap, Battles of Chief Pontiac is
nevertheless an interesting, authentic and compassionate insight into the
plight of the Native Americans, and it sheds a new light on the
civilized/savage-dichonomy of the Western-genre that one wouldn't expect
from a B-Western of its time. True, budgetary limitations keep the film
from being the epic it could have been, but on the other hand the film is
competently crafted, entertainingly told and by far not as naive as most
other Westerns from the early 1950's.