The broken arrow

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German title The broken arrow
Original title Broken Arrow
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1950
length 89 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Delmer Daves
script Albert Maltz
production Julian Blaustein
music Hugo Friedhofer
camera Ernest Palmer
cut J. Watson Webb Jr.

The broken arrow (original title: Broken Arrow ) is a feature film by Twentieth Century Fox from the genre of the western with James Stewart and Jeff Chandler in the lead roles, the plot of which tells the true story of the war between the US Army and individual Apache tribes in Arizona until around 1871. The historical facts were adapted to the requirements of an entertainment film and supplemented by fictional sequences. The film is based on the historical novel Blood Brother (German title in two volumes: Cochise, Chief of the Apaches and Blood Brothers ) by Elliott Arnold from 1947. It is an early example of westerns in which the Indians do not collectively play the negative role take over in an act that clearly polarizes good and bad.


The restless adventurer Tom Jeffords meets the injured Apache boy Machogee on a ride to a fort. He heals and cares for him and thereby earns the respect of his tribesmen, although the Apaches are at war with the whites. When his people arrive, he encounters a lack of understanding about his behavior. Encouraged by this first contact with the Apaches, he decides, against the warnings of the other whites, to visit the Chiricahua Apaches in their camp and to negotiate peace with their chief Cochise. Before that, he learned the Apache language from a deserter. When he arrived at the camp, his courage to go to it and his honesty earned him first the respect and later the friendship of Chief Cochise, who had previously been considered relentless . He also gets to know the shaman Sonseeahray, with whom he falls in love.

At Cochise, Jeffords achieved that the mail riders were no longer attacked by the Apaches, but Cochise made no further promises. And so there are actually no more messengers, but treks continue to be attacked and massacred, which arouses displeasure among the whites and angered them against the Jeffords so that they wanted to lynch him for alleged treason. He is saved by General Oliver Otis Howard , who is planning a peace treaty with the Indians and asks Jeffords to mediate with Cochise. So it comes to a meeting between Cochise and Howard, at which a ceasefire is agreed and peace terms are negotiated.

However, some Apaches do not agree to these conditions, especially since a previous peace treaty has already been broken by the whites, and part with Cochise and his people under their leader Gokhlayeh alias Geronimo . Cochise wants to continue to hold on to peace, in which he sees the only chance for the survival of his war-torn and decimated people. The renegades first endanger the ceasefire. But this is also broken by individual white Indian enemies, led by Bob Slade, who involve Cochise in an exchange of fire in which Sonseeahray, now Jeffords' wife, is killed. Nevertheless, Cochise does not give up the peace and the whites are also more willing to keep the peace through the death of Jefford's wife.


The lexicon of international films described the film as a “great, humane western” that “strives for historical truth”. He started a "new era in American westerns".

Joe Hembus notes that the film, along with Anthony Mann's Curse of the Blood, " brought about a change in the way Westerns deal with the Indian issue," with The Broken Arrow being the more effective film.

Phil Hardy notes that the marriage between the main character and an Indian woman and the more cultivated than primitive Indian life was very provocative for the 1950s, so Sonseeahray died at the end of the film and Jeffords had to return to white society.

The evangelical film observer draws the following conclusion: “One of the first Westerns [...] that resolutely advocated historical truth, against the falsification of history and against racism. The realization of this intention was more important to Daves than dramaturgical and creative perfection. Highly recommended from 12 onwards. "


  • The film was nominated for an Oscar in 1951 in the categories of Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Chandler), Best Cinematography and Best Screenplay .
  • The film was awarded a Golden Globe in the Best Film Promoting International Understanding category.
  • 1951 Writers Guild of America Award for Best Western Screenplay.


  • Elliott Arnold : Cochise, chief of the Apaches. Historical novel (Original title: Blood Brother ). German by Friedrich Gentz ​​with partial use of a translation by Gustav Finzel. Karl-May-Verlag, Bamberg 1964, 428 pp.
  • Elliott Arnold : blood brothers. Historical novel (Original title: Blood Brother ). German by Friedrich Gentz ​​with partial use of a translation by Gustav Finzel. Karl-May-Verlag, Bamberg 1964, 435 pp.
  • Thomas Klein: The broken arrow in film genres - Western / Ed. By B. Kiefer u. N. Grob with the collaboration of M. Stiglegger. Reclam junior, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-018402-9 ; Ss. 146-150

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The Broken Arrow. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  2. ^ Joe Hembus: Western Lexicon - 1272 films from 1894-1975. Carl Hanser Verlag Munich Vienna 2nd edition 1977. ISBN 3-446-12189-7 . P. 222.
  3. ^ Phil Hardy: The Encyclopedia of Western Movies. Woodbury Press Minneapolis 1984. ISBN 0-8300-0405-X . P. 190.
  4. Evangelical Press Association Munich, Review No. 230/1966