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Battles of Chief Pontiac

USA 1952
produced by
Irving Starr, Herman Cohen (associate) for Jack Broder Productions
directed by Felix E.Feist
starring Lex Barker, Lon Chaney jr, Helen Westcott, Berry Kroeger, Roy Roberts, Larry Chance, Katherine Warren, Ramsay Hill, Guy Teague, James Fairfax, Abner Cheorge
written by Jack DeWitt, music by Elmer Bernstein

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 fort.

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 beasts ...

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.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD