Western had little to do with history

I understand there was a movie made more than 50 years ago about the Rogue River Indian War. Can you tell us anything about the movie? It sounds interesting.

— Jim S., Medford

You are no doubt referring to "The Battle of Rogue River," a 1954 western starring George Montgomery, Martha Hyer and Richard Denning.

Those names aren't familiar to us, either, Jim, but they were apparently big wheels in their day.

The flick apparently was supposed to be set during the Rogue River Indian Wars of 1855-56, but the actors wore standard western garb from the post-Civil War era. That war didn't start until 1861.

Nor was the filming done along our beloved river or its environs. It was filmed on the famous Newhall Ranch in Valencia, Calif.

And when it came to the plot, it was as hokey as Hollywood can be when it came to making westerns during that period. In other words, it was no "High Noon."

The story line involves an Indian leader named Chief Mike who has already fought the U.S. troops and settlers to a standstill when the film starts. Enter Army Maj. Archer, an officer intent on winning the war.

En route to the fort, our man Archer orders that a cannon be fired on Indians planning an ambush. The Indians panic but suffer no casualties. He is also heavy-handed in his attempts to instill discipline at the fort, where booze had been used to recruit volunteers. But he learns from his mistakes.

Meanwhile, enter a secret group of business people who oppose statehood and want the Indian war to continue to ensure profits. Fortunately, Chief Mike and Maj. Archer come to respect each other and good prevails.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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