The Last Wagon (1956)
Being lead to safety Comanche on the run from the law wouldn’t be the first idea when your wagon train has been massacred by Apaches. For the survivors of The Last Wagon (1956) they have little choice. Starting out as a divided group of young people who grow up over the course of their journey together and the film.
When Comanche Todd (Richard Widmark) is finally caught after what appears to be a murdering rampage of four brothers he is finally caught by the one with a badge on his chest, who treats his far less than any other man in his custody. They bump into a wagon train making its way to Tuscon. Before they even get there, the white Comanche whose treatment by Sheriff Bill Harper (George Mathews) who would even spit in the face of his prisoner who he ties to a wheel, starving him. Even turning on the people in the train who want to do the Christian thing by him.
Things turn from bad to worse when an Apache raid leaves the camp devastated. Thank fully Comanche Todd is there to meet the kids who ran off for a dangerous dip in the water. He could leave them to fend for themselves but decides to travel with them in a lone wagon to the safety beyond the next canyon. Moving through a rich landscape in Sedona, Arizona. Danger is on the increase for the group as the make it for safety. Including two quarrelling half sisters, both of the same father, for Jolie Normand (Susan Kohner) a white girl she cannot understand the thinking of her half Navajo sister Valinda Normand (Stephanie Griffin), its takes a snake bit to shaker some sense into her when another native American puts his life at risk for her.
When they finally reach the Army the growing presence of Apache’s has grown more so overnight who are ready to pounce on them and the whites in the neighbouring town who have angered them all. Without the intervention of Comanche Todd the six travellers would never have made it to safety, and sadly he would never be put on trial which produces a quick and cliché ending that sees everyone live happily ever after.
A decent western, even if he didn’t have the brown make-up, just a buck-skin outfit to do the job. Doing his best to see these kids to safety, showing that there is more a stranger than meets the eye. That the enemy, the Native American goes through the same problems as white people, having different ways of dealing with injustice, which we all want really.