in June of 2012…I don’t know how long the second feature oaters will last, but let’s give one a try for old time’s sake.
There are two reasons why I decided to sit down and watch Revolt at Fort Laramie (1957). First, the one and only MISTER John Dehner receives top billing—something mighty unusual for a thespian who was mostly practiced in the art of character acting. The second reason was the title; future Perry Mason star Raymond Burr starred in a short-lived radio western entitled Fort Laramie, but the actor who played Burr’s role as Cavalry Captain Lee Quince in the show’s audition was…you guessed it, John Dehner. So a Western entitled Revolt at Fort Laramie is bound to make me smile; I had a mental picture of Dehner and Burr duking it out in front of a microphone as Harry Bartell, Vic Perrin, and Jack Moyles looked on.
In Revolt, Dehner plays Major Seth Bradner—the commander of the titular fort, and a native son of The Old Dominion. Bradner has pressing issues to deal with: one, he’s trying to negotiate a peace treaty with Sioux chief Red Cloud (Eddie Little Sky). There is mutual distrust between the two men, and matters aren’t helped when a few of Red Cloud’s warriors attack a supply wagon en route to the fort; Bradner’s second-in-command, Captain James Tenslip (Gregg Palmer), is convinced that Red Cloud wants to steal a gold shipment on the wagon so that Red Cloud can fortify his tribe without having to deal with all that bothersome red tape that accompanies treaties.
A number of Johnny Rebs plan to resign their Cavalry commissions to join up with the Confederate cause…and they announce these plans to Major Bradner. They’d also like to take along that gold shipment and deliver it to a Confederate fort in Texas to ensure the South has adequate capital to fight “the war of Northern aggression.”
There are a few familiar faces here and there: Don Gordon is a half-breed Indian scout named Jean Salignac, and either his ma or pa was French because he uses a Gallic accent throughout the movie. Kenne Duncan is also on hand, and (Harry) Dean Stanton has one of his earliest motion picture roles as a Southern recruit named “Rinty.” The majority of the cast manages to say their lines and refrain from bumping into the furniture—there aren’t too many standout performances here. There is, however, an interesting continuity boo-boo: another Southerner (Bill Barker) answering to “Hendrey” lets Tenslip in on the soldier’s plans…and when he returns to his bunk, he finds the others lying in wait for him. They quickly dispatch him to the Happy Hunting Ground to a chorus of “Dixie” (a bloody knife is wiped clean on the blanket of one of the bunks); later in the movie, it’s reported that Hendrey’s dead body has been found outside the fort…he’s been scalped to make it appear he was killed by the Sioux. Tenslip tells Bradner that he suspects Hendrey was killed because he knew too much, and Major Seth says he’ll look into it. The investigation goes no further.