The Last Frontier is a Civil War era west taking place in the Wyoming Territory one of the last refuges of that hardy, but shrinking group of men known as the mountain men. The Civil War has given a temporary stay of execution to their way of life, but the end is most assuredly coming.The point is graphically brought home to trappers Victor Mature, James Whitmore, and Pat Hogan when the Sioux under Red Cloud relieve them of their possessions and work. The Sioux don't mind the mountain men, but don't like what they see with the army building forts in the territory. Go seek refuge with the white soldiers.When they do seek it, temporary commander Guy Madison welcomes the trio to the fort even with Pat Hogan being an Indian himself and offers them work as scouts. They accept, but when spit and polish commander Robert Preston shows up they wish they hadn't, especially Mature.Preston is a glory hunter with a beautiful wife he's also trying to make a big show for in the person of Anne Bancroft. He makes Henry Fonda's colonel in Fort Apache seem warm and fuzzy by comparison. His is the best performance in the film.Mature unfortunately has had too little experience with civilization in his life. He just sees Anne Bancroft and it's the testosterone taking over at that point. His character is a harbinger of what we would see later on in Clint Eastwood films though Mature is more loquacious.The Last Frontier boasts some nice location cinematography and a well staged final battle scene. Unfortunately the 180 degree turn in Victor Mature's character proves ultimately a bit much for me to swallow.
This film is set in Oregon during the Civil War. Three trappers (Victor Mature, James Whitmore and Pat Hogan) are dismayed to see that the once-friendly Indian tribe is now angry and are throwing them of the land. This is because the natives are angry that the US Cavalry has been building forts and it's their land.When the trappers go to the nearby fort to complain, they are hired as scouts--mostly because Mature likes the Captain in charge (Guy Madison). However, later, a STUPID Colonel arrives and pretty much ignores Mature's advice. The Colonel (Robert Preston) wants to just blunder into an attack on the Indians--though Mature tells him it's suicide. Why? Because he's afraid being assigned to the wilderness means no medals and promotions in the war. And so, he seems ready to start one himself! What makes this more complicated is that Mature is a bit of a crazy savage. In the meantime, he's fallen inexplicably in love with the Colonel's wife and wants her. And, part of him would be very happy to let the Colonel kill himself so he could have her! The film is interesting and looks nice due to the color film and nice locations in the Pacific Northwest. However, Mature's alcohol-fueled character seemed rather broad--a bit too much like a savage to seem very real. Subtle, he wasn't! Overall, I'd say the film has a bit to like and a bit to annoy. Parts of the film are highly reminiscent of John Ford's "Fort Apache"--but Apache was a masterpiece of subtlety, fine acting and an artisan's touch. "The Last Frontier" is just a bit loud and the characters rather confusing. Interesting but quite flawed and despite the pretty look of the film, it comes off more like a B-movie than anything else.One thing I really, really appreciated about the film was the casting of Pat Hogan. It's rare for a REAL American-Indian to be cast as an Indian in a 1950s western--especially in a major role. He was an Oklahoma-born Native American and not some white guy in dark makeup. For example, Rock Hudson (yes, I am NOT kidding) was cast as an Indian during this same era! 2b1af7f3a8