Fort Apache (1948) - Rotten Tomatoes

Fort Apache1948

Fort Apache (1948)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Fort Apache Photos

Movie Info

The soldiers at Fort Apache may disagree with the tactics of their glory-seeking new commander. But to a man, they're duty-bound to obey - even when it means almost certain disaster. John Wayne, Henry Fonda and many familiar supporting players from master director John Ford's "stock company" saddle up for the first film in the director's famed cavalry trilogy (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande are the others). Roughhouse camaraderie, sentimental vignettes of frontier life, massive action sequences staged in Monument Valley - all are part of Fort Apache. So is Ford's exploration of the West's darker side. Themes of justice, heroism and honor that Ford would revisit in later Westerns are given rein in this moving, thought-provoking film that, even as it salutes a legend, gives reasons to question it.

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Henry Fonda
as Lt. Col. Owen Thursday
John Wayne
as Capt. Kirby York
Shirley Temple
as Philadelphia Thursday
Pedro Armendáriz
as Sgt. Beaufort
Ward Bond
as Sgt. Maj. Michael O'Rourke
John Agar
as Lt. Michael "Mickey" O'Rourke
George O'Brien
as Capt. Sam Collingwood
Irene Rich
as Mrs. Mary O'Rourke
Victor McLaglen
as Sgt. Festus Mulcahy
Anna Lee
as Mrs. Emily Collingwood
Guy Kibbee
as Dr. Wilkens
Grant Withers
as Silas Meacham
Jack Pennick
as Sgt. Shattuck
Dick Foran
as Sgt. Quincannon
Ray Hyke
as Capt. Gates
Mae Marsh
as Mrs. Martha Gates
as Guadalupe
Francis Ford
as Fen, the Stagecoach Guard
Hank Worden
as Bald-Headed Southern Recruit
Mary Gordon
as Woman in Stagecoach Station
Ben Johnson
as Stunt rider
Cliff Clark
as Stage Driver
Fred Graham
as Irish Recruit
Frank Baker
as Stunt rider
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Critic Reviews for Fort Apache

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (5)

The nonlinear narrative, with its infinite digressions and asides, is designed less to tell a story than to present a world-a world dense in physical detail and fraught with moral challenges.

November 20, 2017 | Full Review…

[Balances] a respect for classic American frontier virtues with a less generous assessment of how those virtues were applied.

November 20, 2017 | Rating: A | Full Review…
Top Critic

Cast is as tremendous as the scope achieved by Ford's direction.

September 2, 2008 | Full Review…

Folks who are looking for action in the oldest tradition of the screen, observed through a genuine artist's camera, will find plenty of it here.

March 25, 2006 | Full Review…

Ford gives us telling evidence of tragic ambiguity.

January 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A particularly effective vehicle for Ford's vision of the world's conflicts.

November 18, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Fort Apache


The greatest of the "Cavalry" trilogy. Packed with great social commentary and amazing performances by Fonda, Wayne and Ward Bond. Fonda's final scene is one of the most powerful I've seen.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

The first part in John Ford's Cavalry Trilogy and it's a complete epic. It's hard to find any mistakes, potholes or dull spots; probably because they don't exist. This is a wonderful story with great characters, messages, and overall outlook concerning the west. Henry Fonda went against his usual personality and plays quite a flawed man, sick with a case of too much pride. John Wayne plays a supporting role in this, but his character is so important to the plot that he completely overshadows everyone else. He might have a fraction of some of the others lines, but he's there when it means something.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

I know that many consider Red River or The Searchers to be Wayne's greatest cowboy movies, but for me, you can't get better than Fort Apache. It is the first of John Ford and John Wayne's cavalry trilogy and is the best of the lot. I think the most interesting thing about the film is its rather sympathetic view of the American Indians--they were shown as being decent and 3-dimensional and Wayne repeatedly stressed the importance of our country keeping its word of honor to them as well. In fact, it was very funny seeing Wayne portraying the voice of reason while Henry Fonda was more of a martinet and could have cared less about honor and truth. Along the way, these two great actors are supported by old familiars like Victor McLaglen and Ward Bond, as well as Shirley Temple and her then husband, John Agar. Despite criticism leveled towards Agar by the media over the years (and to a lesser extent, to the adult Temple), I think they did just fine in their roles and made a positive contribution to the movie. And finally, the action and cinematography is tops. It's hard to imagine a more beautiful black and white film or one where so much care and effort was given to make a great film.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

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