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(1947 c 146')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Based on a novel by Neil Swanson, during the Pontiac conspiracy of 1763 a Virginian buys a bond-slave to free her but then has to rescue her and Fort Pitt from a vicious fur trader who is instigating the Indians to drive out the settlers.

In England the Chief Justice (C. Aubrey Smith) sentences Abby Hale (Paulette Goddard) to fourteen years slavery in America for having killed an impressment officer who killed her brother. On the ship Martin Garth (Howard Da Silva) tries to buy her, but he is outbid by Captain Christopher Holden (Gary Cooper), who frees her. Jeremy Love (Cecil Kellaway) gives her a gold coin he swiped, and Chris thinks she stole it. Garth intimidates Leach (Porter Hall) into turning Abby over to Dave Bone (Mike Mazurki). Chris learns that his fiancée has married someone else with more money, and Garth makes Abby think that Chris sold her.

Chris meets his friends John Fraser (Ward Bond) and his wife (Virginia Campbell), and he learns from William Johnson (Alan Napier) and Col. George Washington (Richard Gaines) that Ottawa chief Pontiac is organizing a dangerous alliance of all the Indians in the region. They head toward Fort Pitt. Chris finds Abby working in Bone's tavern and learns she has been double-sold. He escapes with her, has her take a bath, and takes her to a ball in honor of the King in the dress he had bought in Paris for his fiancée. She is the belle of the ball until Garth comes in and says he owns her. Chris challenges Garth to a duel, but Lt. McKinzie (Gavin Muir) rules that Garth owns Abby because he has the papers.

Indians are about to attack Fort Pitt, and Chris is ordered to burn all the buildings outside the fort. Instead he goes alone and cleverly manages to rescue Abby who is about to be burned at the stake by a tribe. Using a magnet he persuades Chief Guyasuta (Boris Karloff) that his magic is superior and to let them leave. When Guyasuta realizes that the needle points toward metal, the Indians pursue them. They are chased in canoes and go over a waterfall; but Chris manages to catch ahold of a branch, and they swing to safety.

Chris and Abby find a settler's home and have a comfortable night, but the next morning they find the dead bodies and bury them. Chris asks Abby to marry him, and she agrees. They go to Venango and learn from a dying scout (Raymond Hatton) that they were massacred after they surrendered with a white flag. Chris wants to go east so that Garth will not reclaim Abby, but she says they must go west to warn the people at Fort Pitt.

When Chris and Abby try to warn them, Chris is tried by a court martial for desertion and is sentenced to be shot. Abby agrees to stay with Garth if he will help rescue Chris, and she helps Chris escape from jail. Chris tries to get help but has to use dead soldiers in wagons with a few drummers to go relieve surrounded Fort Pitt. The Indians run away, and Chris is rewarded for being a good man if not an obedient soldier. Garth is planning to escape with Bone and Abby, but Chris comes in and shoots Garth dead in self-defense.

This epic directed by Cecil B. DeMille is an adventurous fictional story set within a realistic historical context. In this prejudiced patriotic propaganda Chris represents the heroic American overcoming British incompetence and the savage Indians, whose wickedness is symbolized by the villainous Garth who takes their side for the sake of his own greed.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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