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Fort Apache

John Wayne , Henry Fonda , John Ford    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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John Ford's 1948 classic stars John Wayne as a Cavalry officer used to doing things a certain way out West at Fort Apache. Along comes a rigid, new commanding officer (Henry Fonda) who insists that everything on his watch be done by the book, including dealings with local Indians. The results are mixed: greater discipline at the fort, but increased hostilities with the natives. Ford deliberately leaves judgments about the wisdom of these changes ambiguous, but he also allows plenty of room in this wonderful film for the fullness of life among the soldiers and their families--community rituals, new romances--to blossom. Fonda, in an unusual role for him, is stern and formal as the new man in charge; Wayne is heroic as the rebellious second; Victor McLaglen provides comic relief; and Ward Bond is a paragon of sturdy and sentimental masculinity. All of this is set against the magnificent, poetic topography of Monument Valley. This is easily one of the greatest of American films. --Tom Keogh

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great American film July 5 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Director John Ford's first entry in his "cavalry trilogy" is this excellent film about life on a military outpost far from the glamorous theaters of the Indian Wars in the American west. The film is about character development of the officers and enlisted men on the post, family relationships and the class distinctions among the military social order. Henry Fonda dominates this film with a wonderful interpretation of a bitter, unhappy colonel who feels he has been shunted aside by an ungrateful military hierarchy to an isolated desert outpost to fight Apaches, an assignment he considers beneath him. John Wayne's Capt. Kirby York gives the film just the right balance between the two men who have very different viewpoints about fighting Apaches and respect for their fierce adversaries. The concerns of the wives of officers and enlisted men are also explored in the daily routine at Fort Apache and their fears are touchingly portrayed as their men march at dawn one morning to do battle with Cochise's warriors in an attempt to force the venerable chief to return to a reservation that is run by a corrupt, morally bankrupt Indian agent. The original black and white print is superb and is much better than the colorized version available on video. Richard Hageman's music is reflective and melancholy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Ford still works. June 14 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I'm out of my element with this film. I normally don't review black-and-white classics, because I'm too cynical to view the big studio releases of yesteryear with an open mind. All of them are contrived and somewhat sappy; I watch them and envision a cherubic Mickey Rooney looking on while eating chocolate chip cookies and drinking milk. "That's a swell show, Dad!"
But I like John Ford films. And I really like FORT APACHE, despite the movie being a stereotypical product of its time. Why, you ask (or mutter indifferently)? Because this film actually depicts some range for Henry Fonda and the Duke himself. Fonda plays a very unsympathetic role, while John Wayne steps out of character (for him) to play a compassionate second fiddle. And Ford's experiment works: the two actors pull off exceptional performances; their on-screen chemistry is riveting.
Tension--that's the motor that drives FORT APACHE. A new disciplined, disgruntled, by-the-book colonel (Fonda) arrives at a remote Arizona outpost; immediately, he is at odds with the fort's seasoned and weathered captain (Wayne). The captain, who possesses a deep respect for a band of Apache that has left the reservation, has the loyalty and affection of his men; the colonel is looked upon as an unwelcome intruder and resented as a martinet. The two officers wage a battle of wills that ultimately has Fonda using an unsuspecting Wayne as a ploy to draw the Apache back for a surprise attack--a strategy that produces deadly consequences.
This is good stuff, further enhanced by some outstanding supporting roles, including Ward Bond, Pedro Armendariz, and Victor McLaglen. We're even treated to a grown-up--yet still annoying--Shirley Temple. Kudos to John Ford for creating a good-looking film that successfully had Fonda and Wayne step outside their respective boxes. FORT APACHE, despite its "Aw, shucks" big studio smarm, is solid entertainment.
--D. Mikels
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fort Apache: The Custer Massacre Retold Aug. 9 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Director John Ford began his trilogy of the bluecoat versus Indian trilogy with FORT APACHE in 1948. The film was such a hit that he quickly followed with a pair of sequels, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON and RIO GRANDE. John Wayne played basically the same character in each, a grizzled, weary veteran of the Indian wars who is one of the few people in any of the three films who sees the Indians sympathetically. In FORT APACHE, he is Captain Kirby York, who has to adjust to being in second command to a martinet of a commander, Colonel Owen Thursday, played by Henry Fonda in only one of two unsympathetic roles in a very long film career (ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is the other). Captain York wants to bring an end to the Indian wars, so he meets Cochise and Geronimo and gives them his word that they will be treated fairly. Of course, Colonel Thursday decides to attack the Indians in a surprise assault that fools nobody. Colonel Thursday is seen as a clone of General Custer who had much the same idea of surprising 5,000 Indian warriors. It is hard to find any sympathy for Thursday. Every word that he utters is starkly unemotional. He is about as fair with the Indians as he is with his own daughter Philadelphia (Shirley Temple) when he refuses consent to her marriage with a dashing cavalry lieutenant played by the blandly handsome John Agar, who, in real life, married Shirley soon after the film was released. The highlight of the film is a characteristic of John Ford, a smashingly effective use of onrushing troopers led into a cavalry charge with a bugler tooting the way. The battle scene of trooper versus Indian inevitably draws comparison with the real life massacre of the 7th Cavalry under General Custer. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Enduring Classic July 24 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This is my favorite among the several westerns which Ford directed. When seeing it again recently, I was again struck by how relevant this film is to the contemporary business world, more specifically in terms of issues which concern leadership and management. In his recently published Why Smart Executives Fail, Sydney Finkelstein identifies a number of specific lessons which can be learned from "spectacularly unsuccessful" executives such as Dennis Kozlowski, Jean-Marie Messier, and Jill Barad. In an article published by Fast Company magazine (July 2003), he lists seven self-defeating and destructive habits:
1. They see themselves and their companies dominating their environment.
2. They identify so completely with the company that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporate interests.
3. They think they have all the answers.
4. They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn't 100% behind them.
5. They are consummate spokespersons, obsessed with the company image.
6. They underestimate obstacles.
7. They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past.
In Fort Apache, Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday (Henry Fonda) displays all of the seven habits identified and then so brilliantly discussed by Finkelstein. Captain Kirby York (John Wayne) repeatedly tries without any success whatsoever to dissuade his commanding officer from behavior which ultimately results in his (Thursday's) death and the slaughter of most of those under his command. Near the end of the film in his final remarks to journalists, York defends "Thursday's Charge," not to protect Thursday's reputation but to protect the honor of those whom the vainglorious Thursday led to their deaths. York also wishes to preserve the honor of the U.S. Cavalry.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Quality
Published 29 days ago by Shirley Turton
5.0 out of 5 stars Only two things to say : John Wayne
I grew up in the middle of America in the 1950's and my parents were both Veterans of the US Navy in WWII so I was a dyed in the wool, Born and Bred John Wayne fan since Birth.
Published 14 months ago by Chales V. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars The first of a great three
I thoroughly enjoyed this one especially because it starred Ward Bond who is a favorite of mine. Another great production by John Ford and starring "The Duke".
Published 20 months ago by Ladybird
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Find
Talk about a hard to find movie. John Wayne, John Ford, and a great western movie. It doesnt get much better. Fantastic collection for any movie buff or cinemafile. Terrific deal. Read more
Published 21 months ago by D. Sean Paterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Calvary movies
A younger Wayne but still a great actor and who doesn't like Henry Fonda. This movie was definitely a big surprise for me but a first class surprise. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Remember Amer. Bandstand
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie for your John Wayne collection
This is one of the series you need to get if you are an avid fan of John Wayne.
To add to this would be She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande. Read more
Published on April 9 2012 by Jenny
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of product
I received this item in good time and good condition. If there are any other items that I need from this person, I will not hesitate to order. Thank you.
Published on Aug. 31 2010 by Robert W. Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Four and a half stars, actually...
A truly excellent western, one of the all-time greats; the only reason it's not a full 5 stars is there are a few which are marginally better, such as "She Wore a Yellow... Read more
Published on April 4 2004 by Bruce Hutton
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful movie
This was the greatest movie! Anyone would like it~! I would tell anyone/everyone to see it! You should add this great one to your westerns!
Published on Sept. 11 2003 by American CowGirl
5.0 out of 5 stars Fort Apache
Absolutely one of the best westerns ever made! I own a VHS Turner [colorized] version that was unfortunately taped at the EP speed - terrible picture detail, but it will have to do... Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2003
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