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Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier

(1955 c 93')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Compiled from three television shows, Davy Crockett and his friend George Russel help General Jackson put down an Indian revolt. Davy becomes a magistrate and a legislator, opposing corruption in Congress. Davy and George go to Texas and fight for its independence at the Alamo.

         In the “Creek Indian War” General Jackson (Basil Ruysdael) orders Major Tobias Norton (William Bakewell) to find their scout. George Russel (Buddy Ebsen) helps him find Davy Crockett (Fess Parker) trying to “grin down a bear.” Interrupted, Davy has to use his knife to kill the bear. He reports to Jackson, who sends him out to find the Indians.

         Davy leads the soldiers, but Major Norton insists on taking a certain path. They agree to meet later. Davy and George find the Indians, but the army rides into an ambush. Davy and George charge them as if they had more men. They shoot some Indians, and the rest run away. Davy and George ride back and report to Jackson, who orders the men to move out.

         George kills an Indian look-out on top of a mountain. The soldiers and frontiersmen advance and attack the Indians while Jackson watches. In hand-to-hand fighting Davy is hit in the head with a hatchet and is knocked out. George saves Davy, and he says Red Stick got away.

         Davy tells Jackson and Major Norton his friends are going home to take care of their families because their sixty days have long expired. At Davy’s home George collects a kiss from Davy’s wife Polly (Helene Stanley) for having saved Davy’s life.

         Davy and George go back and find Major Norton in command. He says most of his men have swamp fever. Norton says every patrol he sent out has failed to come back. Davy and George go out alone against orders and look for Indians. They separate to go around a lake. An Indian throws a tomahawk at George, and they carry him off. Davy finds George tied to a tree. Davy tries to talk and says he is a hunter too. Davy urges them to give up war, but Chief Red Stick (Pat Hogan) refuses. Davy challenges him according to Indian law. Red Stick calls for tomahawks, and they fight each other. Davy forces Red Stick to listen to reason. He says if they sign a treaty, they can go back to their own land in peace. Red Stick orders George released, and he shakes hands with Davy.

         Davy kisses Polly goodbye and says he will find some better land. He and George go west and see bears in a stream. They find a settlement and aim to file a claim. Bigfoot Mason (Mike Mazurki) is winning the shooting contest. Davy matches his dead-center shot, and then wins with a second dead-center shot.

         Davy and George sign land deeds. The judge tells them that some men are driving off Indians and selling their land to newcomers. He asks Davy to be magistrate to establish some law and order. Davy and George find an Indian squaw and her two children hiding. Then they find Charlie Two Shirts (Jeff Thompson). He says they ran him off his land, and Davy decides to be magistrate. Mason and two men with rifles say they will not give up the land. Davy and Mason fight rough and tumble, no holds barred. Davy wins. A man aims his rifle at Davy, and Two Shirts kills him. Davy says Mason and the other man will stand trial.

         At the settlement the judge says things are better now that he is magistrate. He asks Davy to represent them in the legislature. Davy gets a letter from his sister-in-law that his wife Polly died of a fever, and they have taken in his boys. Davy asks for some time to himself.

         Davy runs for office and gives a speech and suggests they drink some mountain dew while his opponent is ignored. Davy goes to Nashville and finds Norton in his room. He says they are going to make General Jackson president. Davy gets invited to the Hermitage, and Jackson gives him a drink. He shows Davy a book about him as told by George Russel. Jackson asks Davy to run for Congress in order to get his support. Davy says he will serve his constituents, and Jackson likes that answer.

         Davy goes to Washington and finds George there to hear his maiden speech. Davy is recognized and stands up to speak. He says he is half-horse and half-alligator, and he can eat any man alive opposed to Andy Jackson. He says he aims to listen and will not speak again until he has something worth saying. Jackson tells Davy his job is tougher than fighting Indians and not as fun. Davy says he has made some humdinger mistakes. Jackson says they are expanding. Norton says he has arranged a speaking tour for Davy in the east. Norton suggests that Davy could become President.

         Davy speaks in Massachusetts, New York, and Philadelphia, where he accepts a rifle he calls Betsy. George motions to him, and he concludes his speech. George tells Davy that Norton got him out of Washington so that he could pass Jackson’s Indian bill. They ride back fast. Norton is trying to get a vote called, and he tells Davy they already passed the Indian bill. Davy pushes him aside and enters the House. Davy says that expansion is good but not at the expense of violating the treaties they made. He says they would be making rich men of the speculators. He says he is the worst of the lot in Congress. He says they have a responsibility to make it a good nation. He tears the bill in half and walks out.

         Davy and George head west. On a riverboat Davy shows George a newspaper, and he reads that Texas independence is being threatened. Davy says they will go there from Little  Rock. At the bar they meet the gambler Thimblerig (Hans Conreid), who asks to join them. The three enter Texas, and Davy sees the smoke of Comanches. They see a buffalo stampede and watch a Comanche fall off his horse. Davy tries to patch him up and has to fight him. They eat buffalo meat, and Davy communicates with him by sign language. The Comanche will lead them to a white settlement. A Mexican tells them that Santa Ana took the town and has surrounded the Alamo, where the Texans are. They ride away from a group of Mexican cavalry, pass through the Mexican army and enter the Alamo.

         Col. William Travis (Dan Megowan) welcomes them and takes them to see the ailing Col. Jim Bowie (Kenneth Tobey). He says they have to hold the Alamo so that Houston can reorganize their army. They have only two hundred men and are running out of powder. A man comes in under a white flag with a message. Travis tells Davy that they are being asked to surrender. They answer by firing the cannons. Travis says they are lucky to have had four days without a casualty. Davy says it is not luck but providence. Thimblerig loses his meal to the Comanche by gambling. George says they are nearly out of ammunition. Davy says he knew it four days ago. George is angry he was not told, but Davy says he promised the Colonel he would not tell the men. George tells Travis he wants to take a message to Golead, and he rides out.

         Two days later Travis tells Davy that George could not make it back that soon. Sharpshooter Davy kills two soldiers by a cannon. George rides in and says Golead could not send any men. Davy tells George he was safe, but George says he got lonesome. Travis asks Davy to tell Col. Bowie and have him moved. They take Bowie outside, and Travis tells the men that they can leave at dark if they want. Those staying are to step across a line, and they all do. George asks Davy to sing his song. Davy plays guitar and sings “Farewell to the Mountains.”

         The next day the Mexican army storms the Alamo with ladders, and they are turned away. They charge again. They kill many soldiers, but they keep coming. Travis says they breached the north wall. The Mexicans get the gate open and pour through. Travis and George are shot. Soldiers come in and overwhelm Bowie. Davy swings his rifle and is surrounded by Mexican soldiers. A song says they will “remember the Alamo.”

         This spirited biography of the legendary Crockett is based on history but is designed to please the audience as much as possible, providing entertainment along with the story. I was eight years old when I saw these episodes on television, and I soon was wearing a coonskin cap wherever I went and began reading biographies of western heroes.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

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