By Ron Henriques
Looking at the production values of this nearly fifty year old film, its obvious the intentions of the producers were noble. This is probably one of the first major studio releases that dared to portray Native Americans in a truly sympathetic light. The film opens with Geronimo reluctantly surrendering to the U.S. Cavalry in order to spare his few remaining followers more deprivation and starvation. Once at the reservation, he quickly learns he has been deceived and that the tribe is slated to be humiliated wards of the government, stripped of any dignity or civil rights. This bold notion is watered down, however, by a screenplay that ensures that these deceitful practices are the work of a few bad apples. By punting on presenting actual history, the story loses its impact. Geronimo and some of his men rebel by breaking out of the reservation and going on the war path. If the film goes lightly on the U.S. government, so, too does it present Geronimo in a sanctified light. There isn't a hint of the atrocities he committed against settlers, probably because Chuck Connors' fans would have marched on the studio bosses and burned them out. The film is comic book history, presenting only the barest hint of historical fact and even includes a ridiculous happy ending that absolves the U.S. government and Geronimo of any mistakes in judgment.
For more on what the US really did, see Wounded Knee "Delivered the Sentence" and Capitalism Killed the Indians. For more on Native-themed movies, see The Best Indian Movies.