Trooper Hook (1957)

Trooper Hook (1957), directed by Charles Marquis Warren.


They hate the Indians for what they themselves might have done. They hate me even more.

Another "white woman captured by the Indians" western. Nearing retirement, Army Sgt Joel McCrea captures a group of wild Indians and rescues Barbara Stanwyck, who now has a son by the chief. The Sgt escorts her back to her original husband, who we just know is not going to be happy to see them. Meanwhile Chief Nanchez has has escaped and wants the boy back. The resolution in the final minutes is ridiculously convenient.

The Stalking Moon (1968) is a parallel story. This one has some good points but both Comanche Station (1960) and The Stalking Moon (1968) are miles ahead in quality.

The story emphasizes the contempt people feel for her for living under such degradation. She was supposed to kill herself. Not just the men, but the women feel that way. She says it was the same among the Apaches: the women treated her the worst.

Only a few can break through the social barrier and show her kindness; others want to but aren't strong enough. McCrea understands what it means to survive under harsh conditions: he lived like a dog -- literally -- for a month in a prison camp during the War. He and friendly cowpoke Earl Holliman are her defenders.


Salesman: Is that the fashion these parts? I mean your hair. Cut it might short it looks to me. Any reason for it?

She: Lice.

I'm not sure what to make of one scene: surrounded by hostile Apaches, the Sgt threatens to kill the boy unless Nanchez lets them go. He's serious. Is that part of the Code of the West? The troopers also burn the Indian camp at the beginning.

Was Stanwyck the best choice here? Her invincible strength and dignity tend to overpower the role. I recall McCrea looking younger in Ride the High Country (1962), made five years later.

Other familiar faces: Royal Dano as the irascible stage driver ("Sit up here and you can watch me snap the heads off of rattlers") and Edward Andrews, who never had a sympathetic role. He was always the big loud guy with heavy glasses. Young Susan Kohner was last seen in Imitation of Life (1959). John Dehner is the unlikeable husband.

The music is pretty poor, including the balladeering narration by Tex Ritter. Some of the stagecoach shots have one side removed entirely so we can see the whole interior, which looks really strange.

MGM DVD-R, available for rent from ClassicFlix.