White Feather at the IMDb
‘Number 2’ Robert Wagner stars in this 1955 western which, as far as I can gather, isn’t related to the Marillion song of the same name.
Wagner does a bit of pre-credit narration in which he tells us that this is a true story, but the Indians speak English so we can understand them. Thanks for making us feel stupid from the off Number 2!
Wagner plays Josh Tanner, a young surveyor looking to plan some towns in gold rich Indian country. He finds the body of a prospector with an arrow in his back and after pocketing his gold he heads to the army fort. He does a bit of exposition for the Commander and hands over the gold so we know he’s a solid fella. He heads to the store to get a room (and he treats us like we’re thick!) just in time to hear the racist storekeeper give it to some Indians. The bigot sends our man to the back room whereupon our hero meets the sexy daughter fresh out of the bath - a whole shoulder is on display!
We learn that tensions are running high with the Indians, with some ready to sign a treaty but others, notably the Cheyenne, refusing to lay down before their masters - the dogs! Wagner takes a laissez faire approach and on a date with the store keeper’s daughter impresses the Cheyenne Chief’s headstong son with his diplomacy and comb. He’s so impressed that next day he delivers a nice squaw for him - that must have been some nice comb!
He take his new date back to the camp and is worried to note the Indians are practicing shooting on some dummies made up like soldiers - this can’t end well! Wagner tries to chum up with the Indians by giving them knives but all he gets in return is a hot horse that spells trouble with the neighbouring tribes from whom it was stolen. Meanwhile the old Chief has decided to smoke um peace pipe to the chagrin of his hot headed son.
As things get hot on the diplomatic front so do they also in Wagner’s storeroom bed as the squaw sets up home - but isn’t she promised to the warrior, American Horse? Can the battles in love and war be settled so that we can all live nicely together and open casinos?
Once again the ‘W’ movie quest produces a western and quite a po-faced one at that. Normally we get a bit of action and a few drunken laughs but here it’s all business. Wagner acts as a conduit between the two warring peoples and, to be fair, the film gives a balanced view, even highlighting the injustices faced by the natives. The familiar character of the hot headed son is used to bring in a bit of conflict but when he’s impressed by a comb you know he’s not going to be much of a threat.
The film looks impressive and is mostly shot on location. The characters are a bit thin and too clichéd and there’s not a lot to get invested in. Wagner is too non-committal and his lack focus brushes off on the viewer who gets to the stage where he’s lost interest about halfway through.
The love story seems tacked on and, although we get some naked back, it’s largely pointless especially as the spurned loved gets handed his ass in a low rent fist fight.
Overall the film is more worthy than it is watchable and I was looking for a white flag rather than a white feather 30 minutes before the credits.
Best Bit : Indian Takeaway Shows Up in the Store Room
‘W’ Rating : 10/23