Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1960. Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions. Screenplay by Ben Maddow, based on the novel by Alan Le May. Cinematography by Franz Planer. Produced by James Hill. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin. Production Design by Stephen B. Grimes. Costume Design by Dorothy Jeakins. Film Editing by Russell Lloyd.
Not to be confused with Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award-winning western, this film is something of a flipside to John Ford’s classic The Searchers. A family living on the frontier of Wild West America becomes the object of derision when their fellow settlers learn that their adopted daughter (Audrey Hepburn) was a native baby taken after a battle that killed her parents. The news brings out the worst possible racist tendencies in the people around her, including members of her own family. The real conflict comes, however, when her tribe comes to claim her and she must choose between two families. Hepburn is terrific in the lead, while Lillian Gish stands out as the wise grandmother in this independently-produced film with a strong social message. Hepburn suffered a broken back after a horse threw her off during filming.