Briscoe Museum Screening Broken Arrow, A Gamechanger for Native American Representation

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20TH CENTURY FOX
  • 20th Century Fox
Not to be confused with the John Travolta movie, 1950’s Broken Arrow marked a prominent turning point in postwar Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans.

The story is loosely inspired by the real-life characters of Apache chief Cochise (played by Jeff Chandler) and Tom Jeffords (James Stewart), an Army scout turned Indian agent who brokered a few years of peace in the Apache wars during the 1870s. Amid a fair amount of handsome Hollywood hokum, the script strives to present an even-handed story of prejudice and anger in the clash of cultures. While Chandler and Debra Paget (as Tom’s Indian bride) aren’t Indians, the extras are residents of an Apache reservation and some attempt is made to convey their rituals. The recalcitrant Geronimo is played by Canadian Mohawk Jay Silverheels, most famous as TV’s Tonto. Shot in gorgeous Technicolor, this popular and influential picture was the first of many intelligent Westerns from director Delmer Daves. You can see its tropes reappearing down through the decades in such items as Dances with Wolves.

The Briscoe screens the film in conjunction with its Warhol and the Western film series, complete with complimentary popcorn and brews provided by Ranger Creek.

$5 suggested donation, Tue July 17, 6pm, Briscoe Western Art Museum, 210 W. Market St., (210) 299-4499, briscoemuseum.org.

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