Fort Yuma (1955)


Fort Yuma Storyline

A disgruntled settler kills an Apache chief at Fort Yuma, and the fort’s commander knows that the chief’s son, Manga Colorado, will seek revenge and go on the warpath. He sends word by a courier to Fort Apache where a supply column is due to head across the desert to Fort Yuman, but the courier is killed by Mangas. The column, under the command of Lieutenant Ben Keegan who hates Apaches because he doesn’t trust them, and because his assigned scout is Jonas, the brother of an Apache girl, Francesca, whom Keegan has been having an affair with. Also accompanying them is Melanie Crowne, who is going to do missionary work among the Apaches. Mangas attacks the column wiping out everybody but Keegan, Jonas and Melanie. Francesca is killed while trying to warn Keegan, and he realizes how foolish he had been in his prejudice and in keeping his love secret. The Apaches, dressed in the uniforms of the dead soldier, plan to gain entrance to Fort Yuma and massacre the men there.—Les Adams

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Fort Yuma Movie Reviews

An Okay Western Movie

This movie begins with Chief Mangas Coloradas and 3 other leaders of the Mimbreno tribe of the Apaches riding into Fort Yuma to negotiate a peace treaty. Unfortunately, a settler goes insane and kills Chief Mangas Coloradas which sets off hostilities between the United States and the Apaches once more. Not long afterward a messenger from the fort is intercepted by the Apaches and they learn that a supply column is headed to Fort Yuma from Fort Apache. This particular wagon train is headed by a cold and cruel officer by the name of “Lt. Ben Keegan” (Peter Graves) who hates Apaches with a passion. Ironically, he is somewhat attached to an Apache woman named “Francesca” (Joan Taylor) who is madly in love with him. Along with Francesca two other people also decide to ride with the supply column. One is a missionary by the name of “Melanie Crown” (Joan Vohs) and the other is the brother of Francesca named “Sgt. Jonas” (John Hudson) who despises Lt. Keegan. None of them know that the Apaches are waiting for an opportunity to ambush them. Anyway, rather than detail the rest of the story and possibly spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it I will just say that this was an okay western movie. Not good-but not bad either. The fact that it’s in color certainly enhances the film but it’s still only a grade-B movie for the most part and I have rated it as such. Average.

Better-than-average B Western

Three main weaknesses common to so many old Westerns:

1. Peter Graves looked far too sleek throughout.

2. Sergeant Jonas and his sister were meant to be Apaches, but didn’t look as if they were. (I suppose one could imagine that they were of mixed parentage – which would also help to explain their “white” names and Jonas’s enmity for his fellow Native Americans.)

3. The improbable introduction of a glamorous woman to provide some sex interest. There is no way that someone like Melanie Crown would have been allowed to have accompanied a detail across such terrain without a chaperone. And for good measure, Francesca is allowed along too.

Nor did Hallock impress as a top sergeant – never mind the officer he wanted to be. And the romantic conclusion was improbable.

All that having been said, the film was better than I had inferred from reviews here on IMDb. Lieutenant Keegan was rather more complex a character than is usually found in such Westerns, witness his slapping Francesca and his threatened torture and hanging of the prisoner. The colour photography was good, the plot not too hackneyed and the combat scenes graphic for the films of the mid-1950s.The scenes in which Hallock was trying to rescue Taylor were quite moving.

I’m glad that I watched it.


More Time is Spent on the inter-Racial Love Interests, which was Atypical in Most 50’s Westerns.

Few Films had such a Voluptuous Female Native-American at the Center of the Plot and even Fewer Dared to Portray Her in as Many Provocative Shots.

The Contrast Between Her and Blonde-Blue-Eyed Peter Graves is Stunning.

Graves is a Notorious Indian-Hater and Hides His Infatuation with the Woman (Joan Taylor).

But the Plot may have Another Side of His Hypocritical Bigotry to Explore.

If that Wasn’t Enough, there is a Second Love-Fest Occurring as Joan Vohs, a White Woman on the Wagon Train, Falls for the Indian Scout.

On Top of the Daring Romance, the Film is Filled with Violent Attacks, with the Body-Count Stratospheric.

Sexy, Brutal, and Philosophical Western that Picked-Up on the Early 50’s Trend of a New Approach to Native-American-Anglo Interaction.

Softening the Natives as Almost Human.

A Costume Twist Adds Another Off-Beat Scene.

Above Average for its Type and is Certainly…

Worth a Watch.