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Plot:

Capt. Harper’s cavalry patrol returns to the fort to find it besieged by Ute Indians. The apparent cause is the recapture of Army traitor Brett Halliday, who deserted to the Utes in a previous war; but Brett has a different story. With capture imminent, the only chance for the surviving men (and one woman) is to boat down a wild, uncharted river, where Harper and Halliday must pull together, like it or not.

Also Known As: Smoke Signal, De rivier van angst, Le fleuve de la dernière chance, Son Ümit Nehri, La rivière de la dernière chance, Segnale di fumo, O Sinal, Cara a la muerte, Dimni signal, Rauchsignale, Rauchsignale West, Le fleuve d'angoisse, To teleftaio ohyro, Savumerkkejä vuorilla, Semnale de fum, Fuga Heróica, Røgsignaler, De röda hämnarna

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  • joaquim-melo
    joaquim melo

    It seemed to me a lot was made of the Utes fearing the river because it went through a no man’s land of dangerous rapids and unknown terror, but once the soldiers made their escape in boats, the Indians pretty much followed along in order to take out the cavalry. That was a disconnect for me, making me wonder why the story line brought it up in the first place. I guess it sounded good as a rationale for Brett Halliday (Dana Andrews) to pitch the idea.This is one of those stories where the female lead, in this case Piper Laurie as Laura Evans, switches allegiances mid-way through the picture, throwing over her fiancé Lieutenant Ford (Rex Reason) when he sides with his commander Harper (William Talman) against Halliday for all the wrong reasons. Well OK, he was mostly following orders, but just like the Captain, he never did consider Halliday’s point of view, even after Halliday proved his loyalty to the cause once hostilities got under way. Smooth move there Lieutenant, trying to take out Halliday and going over the cliff for his trouble; he should have watched that first step.It seemed to me Dana Andrews was pretty low key in his lead role here, almost like he wasn’t invested in the outcome of the movie. We eventually get to learn his character’s back story, but it seems he could have put more energy into the role. Say, what’s with that scene when he tries to save Livingston (William Schallert) and right there in the middle of the river, the screen writer came up with a quicksand gimmick! Has anyone ever heard of that? A complete head scratcher for this viewer.Well this one winds things up pretty well up to expectation, with the headstrong Captain finally being convinced to see things the right way in regard to Halliday’s circumstances. No feel-good romance ending to close out the picture though, since Talman allowed Halliday to escape according to the rule book.

  • marek-tomingas
    marek tomingas

    Having abandoned his post to join the Utes a man named “Brett Halliday” (Dana Andrews) is recaptured later to stand trial for treason. It’s also then that the Utes have joined forces with the Sioux and Navajo to wage war on the United States and one of their first targets is the small fort where Brett has been imprisoned. To make things even more complicated, with too few troops to defend the fort a decision has to be made on whether to follow Brett’s advice to escape by going on small boats down the treacherous Colorado River-which might be even more dangerous than the Utes. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this turned out to be a fairly nice Western for the most part with a couple of interesting twists and turns along the way and fine performances by both Dana Andrews and Laurie Piper (as “Laura Evans”). All things considered, I found it to be worth the time spent to watch it and I have rated it accordingly. Slightly above average.

  • jangcaeweon
    jangcaeweon

    The wrinkle here, is that most of the action takes place in boats, traversing a treacherous river in the west. Andrews, Laurie, and Reason acquit themselves well, but the script is tired, even for the mid 50s. There is enough action to satisfy and Piper is easy on the eyes, otherwise this one is just passable.

  • bay-rahmet-cenan-safak
    bay rahmet cenan safak

    Huge war party is about to attack an Army outpost against an outnumbered military unit. To survive, the soldiers must take to a dangerous river flowing through canyon country, harassed by the savages all the way. Their troubles were compounded by internal strife created by a prisoner the Army was taking with them. Good action yarn filmed in the Grand Canyon.

  • sandi-blazic
    sandi blazic

    Since “broken arrow” it had become politically correct to treat the Indians as human beings and it was about time!Like James Stewart ,the hero lived with a tribe,married a squaw (who died too) ,but it was a bad idea cause he was a military man and by leaving his “people ” behind ,he became a deserter .He was captured and held prisoner in a fort in jeopardy for the Indians are all around.The only way is the river which runs through the canyon.The screenplay is predictable to a fault ,the female part (Piper Laurie)is essentially decorative ,but the landscapes are worth the price of admission.Like Richard Widmark in ” the last wagon” ,Dana Andrews will “redeem himself” (but he is actually so noble there is nothing to redeem indeed).This is a “river movie” ,in which the enemy is actually not the Indians but the dangerous waters and the white men’s jealousy and hatred .Like this ? try these…”River of no return” ,Otto Preminger “The far horizons” ,Rudolph Maté

  • charlotte-ramos
    charlotte ramos

    This otherwise routine western has two things going for it—great red rock scenery and William Talman as the cavalry captain. The scenery speaks for itself, but it’s Talman’s committed performance that lifts the human element. He makes his by-the-book officer utterly believable. Couple that with his screen time and it’s really he who has the starring role. Too bad he settled into his long-running D.A. role on Perry Mason; then too, despite his semi-good guy role here, no one from that era could do bug-eyed psychos as well as Talman.At the same time, it’s too bad Andrews couldn’t get motivated for his role. He pretty much picks up a paycheck and leaves it at that. But then a Universal western is a comedown for this former TCF movie star, and it shows. It’s also pretty much a ditto for Laurie who tags along in indifferent fashion, this not surprisingly being her last film for Universal. Good thing the supporting cast includes so many capable, familiar faces— Stone, Wilke, Jones—to help save the acting day.Frankly, the plot seems more complicated than the script could lucidly handle, then again, maybe that’s just me. But one thing with most westerns—you can enjoy the scenery and action without having to follow the plot. And that appears the case here. On the whole, the centerpiece action on the river is well done with only a few blended process shots. And boy, I really jumped when the one boat suddenly struck a rock in totally realistic fashion.Anyway, as a western, the movie has its compensations without being anything special.

  • mandy-foster
    mandy foster

    This fine production is in every way one of the best westerns, and the best adventures ever made by my standards. It is also a “sense-of-life” film, during whose course the viewer along with the characters discovers the truth about the central character for himself. The plot situation here is a tense one. This script has in fact one of the most interesting story lines of any western of which I have knowledge. A man named Halliday is being called a renegade, even accused of having started an Indian war. Yet Brett Halliday is a man who deserted to join the Ute Indians–who have now joined the Sioux—on a previous occasion for what he says was a different reason entirely. His story was he wanted keep the peace then and still does, but Evans, the man in charge at the local fort, wanted the war. The man who has captured him, Harper, leads his patrol back to the fort. Laura Evans, the Colonel’s daughter, is also present. Her father is dead; and an overwhelming attack on the fort is now imminent. With no other choice, the few survivors have to make their way down the walls of the canyon beside which the fort is perched and try to escape via the river that flows there. The body of the film’s many action scenes involve that attempted escape and Halliday’s part played during it, which finally convinces a by-the-book Harper to let him go to the Indians and try to avert needless bloodshed. By this time, he has told the daughter the truth about her father–that he brought on the two wars by the way he had maltreated the tribes. And she has fallen in love with him and will wait for his return. Veteran Jerry Hopper directed the colorful scenes contained herein from a script by George W. George and George Slavin. In the good cast beside Dana Andrews, very good as Halliday, young star Piper Laurie as Miss Evans, William Talman in a his best role ever in film as Harper, Milburn Stone just before he achieved fame as “Doc” on “Gunsmoke’s” long-running TV series, Rex Reason as Laura Evans’ jealous suitor, Gordon Jones, Robert J.Wilkie, Peter Coe, Douglas Spencer and William Schallert. There are many good technical and creative contributions that make this a beautiful and memorable outdoor drama. Bill Thomas did the costumes and other fine professionals were involved; but the plot line concerning how men face adversity is so strong that a lesser cast, producers and artists could still have made this a creditable effort. That they did so much better than they might have done is a tribute to all concerned.

  • zvonko-bobanovic
    zvonko bobanovic

    Smoke Signal stars Dana Andrews as an army deserter who left because his late commanding officer was hell bent on starting an Indian war which he did. When the Indians went on the offense Andrews deserted them and is now a prisoner.Now the commander is dead and Andrews is a prisoner at his fort. But that might not mean much as most of the fort is dead and the Utes are closing in. There one chance for the survivors and it means heading down the Colorado River which as yet is unexplored, especially around that Grand Canyon area. One woman the late commander’s daughter Piper Laurie, one trapper Douglas Spencer and a bunch of soldiers led by Captain William Talman who has a special reason for hating Andrews as his brother was killed in a battle with the Utes. But it’s pretty clear that Andrews is the one guy who really knows what he’s doing.The film is mostly the journey down the Colorado River where we see who makes it and who doesn’t. Only six are left in the boat at the end, you have to see which six.Nice location cinematography and good ensemble performance by a veteran cast.

  • tracy-esson
    tracy esson

    Smoke Signal is directed by Jerry Hooper and co-written by George F. Slavin and George W. George. It stars Dana Andrews, Piper Laurie, William Talman, Rex Reason, Milburn Stone and Douglas Spencer. A Technicolor production that’s primarily filmed at the Grand Canyon of The Colorado, cinematography is by Clifford Stein and musical supervision is provided by Joseph Gershenson.After their fort is attacked by Indians a small group of survivors escape to the wild Colorado River. Their only hope of survival is to tackle the unforgiving stretch of water whilst holding off the pursuing enemy. But can they survive each other first?Very much a mixed bag in terms of production, Smoke Signal is enjoyable enough for the undemanding Western fan. The story is a safe one as it focuses on a fractured group dynamic having to come together in order to survive the terrain and hold off the enemy pursuing them. The group consists of a pig-headed Captain (Talman), soldiers with prejudice, a pretty lady (Laurie), a trapper (Spencer) and a prisoner (Andrews), the latter of which is a despised “Indian Lover” because of him having been married to an Indian woman and therefore lived with the Ute tribe. Many human traits and qualities will be tested on this journey, the narrative strong enough to warrant the interest being held to see how it will all pan out.The central idea and its themes has been done far better before in films like The Last Wagon and River of No Return, to name just two. However, Smoke Signal does feature unique location work on the Big Bend of the Colorado River (Stine doing fine photography work), and it’s good to see a rarely seen tribe of Indians featured in a Western, the Utes. Bonus, too, is Talman (The Hitch-Hiker), who gets a good meaty part to show what he could give as an actor. Yet the makers give good stuff with one hand and take it away with the other. Great scenery is coupled with poor back projection shots, dummies are all too evident and Laurie is arguably the ultimate token lone female character in a Western. Even the normally reliable Andrews looks weary throughout, were it not for Talman and Spencer, this would fall into the badly acted drawer.Western fans don’t demand too much from a “B” production, but some of the efforts here are dangerously close to being “Z” grade. A shame because the strong story and the real location photography carry a high interest factor for the genre follower. A better director than Hooper would have certainly improved things, or at the least someone who could stitch things together more knowingly with tricks of the trade. The Pegasus DVD release has a decent print, not pristine, but clear in picture and colour levels. It’s not one to recommend with great confidence to like minded Western fans, but there’s enough in here to rank it just above average. 6/10

  • nemeth-s-istvan
    nemeth s istvan

    As a child in the 1960s I watched as many Westerns at the cinema as possible, and “Smoke Signal” was one of those that left a lasting impression. I had to wait many years for it to be shown on British TV, and then it wasn’t quite as good as I’d remembered, but still quite novel, with the US Cavalry taking to the boats to escape Indians. Certainly the Grand Canyon made a spectacular background to much of the film, though with the white protagonists being confined to two small boats quite a lot of rather obvious back projection was necessary whenever one of them spoke.Few films of the 1950s (or indeed of any period)dared omit a female from the cast, however contrived her inclusion might be, and here we have Piper Laurie visiting her father at one of the most primitive forts I’ve seen portrayed in a film at a time of tension with the Indians.