Wild West

SUICIDE BY SOLDIER

One 1955 Technicolor CinemaScope Western starring present and future brand-name actors features a story of suicidal valor, as two courageous but confused young Cheyenne warriors confront two troops of U.S. cavalrymen in a duel with predictable results. One Cheyenne, Little Dog, is played by Jeffrey Hunter a year before his breakout role as Martin Pawley opposite John Wayne in The Searchers. The other, American Horse, is played by Hugh O’Brian, the same year he took on his signature TV role relating The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. Debra Paget, who as a 16-year-old played the Apache bride of Tom Jeffords (portrayed by 42-year-old James Stewart) in the 1950 film Broken Arrow, plays the Cheyenne maiden Appearing Day, who rides off into the sunset with land surveyor Josh Tanner, portrayed by the more age-appropriate Robert Wagner.

The story about the two-man suicide showdown is factual—to, directed by Robert D. Webb, does a lot better than break even, and careers were clearly made and not broken. Following are the facts as they probably happened in the real West.

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