A cavalry lieutenant becomes a hated enemy of a Shoshone chief, Black Eagle, when he rescues an Indian maid from a ceremonial camp in this action-packed Western.
Black Eagle - Little Deer - Pounding Hearts. Oregon Passage (AKA: Rio Bravo) is directed by Paul Landres and adapted to screenplay by Jack DeWitt from the novel written by Gordon D. Shirreffs. It stars John Ericson, Lola Albright, Toni Gerry, Edward Platt, Rachel Ames and H.M. Wynant. Music is by Paul Dunlap and CinemaScope photography is by Ellis Carter. It's somewhat surprising that given the production value here that this is a little known Cavalry & Indians Oater. Of course the absence of "A" list male stars explains its rarity a touch, but still it deserves a look if not for the formulaic plotting, then for the production strengths. Plot finds Ericson as Lt. Niles Ord in Oregon 1871, he's 1/16th Cherokee and has a grasp of the Indian situation! Holed up at the fort with a commanding officer who has a grudge (Platt), Ord and the rest of the soldiers operate in constant threat of attack from Black Eagle and his Shoshone warrior tribe. Meanwhile tricky matters of the heart produce internal war within the fort's boundaries. Nothing for Western fans to get too excited about but it's a very well mounted picture. Platt is a Custer character just waiting to get comeuppance, his pigheadedness and repeated locking of horns with Ericson drives the story forward. Albright and Gerry are absolutely socko gorgeous, lit up in De Luxe colour and given written parts that may be familiar, but nonetheless are performed for good impact. It often gets draggy as it spends too much time inside the fort, the character interactions at times becoming extraneous, but action pops in from time to time and is competently staged and raises the pulses. The CinemaScope photography is most pleasing, Ellis Carter (The Incredible Shrinking Man) making use of the Deschutes National Forest locations. Dunlap's musical score is by the numbers for such a Western movie, though his various incorporation's of "Red River Valley" strike an impression, whilst the design of the fort - all sharpened timber - is also striking. Worth a viewing for the Oater of mind. 6/10