Trooper Hook (1958)

When Apache chief Nanchez is captured by the cavalry, his white squaw and infant son are returned to civilization by Sergeant Hook, but Nanchez escapes custody and attempts to re-claim his son.

You're the army, do something.
Trooper Hook is directed by Charles Marquis Warren and collectively written by David Victor, Jack Schaefer and Herbert Little Jr. It stars Joel McCrea, Barbara Stanwyck, Earl Holliman, Royal Dano and Rudolfo Acosta. Music is by Gerald Fried, with theme tune song by Tex Ritter, and cinematography is by Ellsworth Fredericks.
Upon capturing a band of marauding Apaches, Cavalry Sergeant Clovis Hook (McCrea) finds a white woman amongst the group. Cora Sutliff (Stanwyck) was taken by the Apache years ago and became the squaw of their leader, Nanchez (Acosta), she also bore him a child, Quito (Terry Lawrence). The army decides to reunite Cora with her white husband and charge Hook with delivering both her and Quito safely across country to the Sutliff homestead...
Splendid cast is assembled for this black and white Oater that is more about racism and the problems of inter-racial relations in the Old West, than it is a Cavalry Vs Indians shoot 'em up. Story essentially follows a stagecoach travelling across country that finds Hook, Cora and Quito encountering all manner of characters along the way, most of whom are racist. While of course there is the small matter of the Apache being on their tail as well.
Hook is a grizzled old badger, orders are orders, regardless of if he had any sort of objections to his mission, he's there to keep order and see the job through. For various reasons, everyone on the journey will be looking to him for action and decisions, not least Cora and Quito who begin to form a warm relationship with him. It of course builds to a head once the Apache come back onto the scene, and there's the issue of if Cora's husband will accept her and her half-breed son into his life?
It's very competently performed, and with the exception of some of the lower budget aspects of the production, it's well crafted by Warren. Unfortunately the writing doesn't always give the outside characters a quality of script befitting the themes of the story. Hook and Cora get some good back story, she in explanation of her captivity and he with his rueful recollections as a prisoner of the Civil War. While Holliman is served well as a genial cowpoke and Dano as the crotchety stagecoach driver is great fun.
Coming as it did post far better movies that dealt with prejudice themes in the Indian Wars, it feels like a coat tail grabber, and a watered down offering at that. That it's still a worthy viewing experience comes down to the work of a committed set of lead actors. 6.5/10

Filmaster Productions, Sol Baer Fielding by Charles Marquis Warren, Jack Schaefer, David Victor, Martin Berkeley, Herbert Little Jr..
Stars: Joel McCrea, Barbara Stanwyck, Earl Holliman, Edward Andrews.

Genres: Western

Keywords: based on novel or book horse


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