, 147min, OF
Plagued by ill health and hampered by the obtuse decisions of dull-witted studio chiefs, John Ford had reached a point in his life not unlike that of the tribe he depicts in CHEYENNE AUTUMN, his final Western. A large majority of the remaining 1000 members of the Cheyenne tribe forced onto an Oklahoma reservation in the 1870s have been killed by disease and starvation while waiting a year for promised government aid. Driven by the need to survive, the last 250 Indians begin an arduous 1,500 mile trek to their ancestral lands in Wyoming, accompanied by Quaker schoolteacher Deborah. The army dispatches Capt. Archer, Deborah's fiancé, to pursue the Cheyenne. En route, the hot-blooded Red Shirt battles with army troops and as the journey continues, the stoic Cheyenne must endure the rank stupidity and malign indifference of their Caucasian usurpers.
The star-studded cast performs admirably in a film graced by William Clothier's epic photography of the inspiring Monument Valley, a location immortalized by Ford's earlier films and here providing the perfect backdrop for the legendary director's delicate, rueful, and tremendously moving farewell to the West.