TOMAHAWK TRAIL. United Artists / Bel-Air Productions, 1957. Chuck Connors, John Smith, Susan Cummings, Lisa Montell, George N. Neise, [Harry] Dean Stanton. Director: Lesley Selander.

   Although there’s not much depth in Tomahawk Trail, it’s a rather enjoyable Western programmer that provides a good hour of pure cinematic escapism. With more than a nod to John Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy, the plot follows a U.S. Army troop caught in hostile Apache country. Problem is, Lt. Jonathan Davenport (George N. Niese), an arrogant West Point graduate, has gone mad from a head injury and exposure to the desert sun. This forces Sgt. Wade McCoy (Chuck Connors) into action, taking charge of the troop, knowing all too well that this could lead to his Court-martial.

   Along for the journey is a ragtag group of soldiers, including Private Reynolds (John Smith) and Private Miller (a young Harry Dean Stanton) and two women, the white Ellen Carter (Susan Cummings) and the Apache squaw Tula (Lisa Montell). The dialogue written for the women is bland and unconvincing. That’s putting it mildly. Conversations between the two are in a childish stereotypical Native American patois, with exceedingly simple words and phrases. Although it’s grating to the ears, fortunately the bulk of the film’s dramatic moments revolve not around them, but around McCoy as he tries to convince himself that he is doing the best possible thing in the worst possible situation.

   In many ways, there’s not all that much that’s wrong with Tomahawk Trail. It’s nothing exceptional, either. Just another 1950s Western that is neither particularly compelling, nor particularly off-putting. If you’re a Chuck Connors fan and you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth a look.