The Film that “Promoted International Understanding”: “Broken Arrow”

 In MOA Event Gallery, MOA Features

The BYU MOA is screening the 1950 Western drama film Broken Arrow in conjunction with the current exhibition Branding the American West: Paintings and Films 1900-1950.

Film was an integral part of introducing people all over the world what the American West was like – both for good and for ill. Films often stereotyped native peoples, exaggerated the shootouts-in-saloons lifestyle, and generally didn’t portray the West as it really was. However, through it all, films succeeded in making dreamers of the East coasters who only saw rugged terrains, handsome cowboys, quaint Western towns, and the promise of adventure. These ideas introduced through films are still many people’s expectation of what the American West is like, even today.

Broken Arrow is a post-World War II Western films that has many accolades. It was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. The film won a Golden Globe for Best Film Promoting International Understanding. Based on true events and real people, this drama is a fictionalized telling of real events. Broken Arrow stars Jimmy Stewart as Tom Jeffords, a US Army scout who befriends Apache leader Cochise, played by Jeff Chandler, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role. In the film, Jeffords tries to be an ambassador of peace between settlers and the Apaches, to tragic end. While the film is still problematic in the casting and treatment of the Apache, the film is sympathetic in attitude towards Native Americans, one of the earliest post-war films to do so.

Dr. Marian Wardle, curator of the Branding the American West exhibition, will introduce the film prior to the screening at the BYU MOA, and speak briefly about the film’s impact on branding the American West for viewers across the nation. We hope you join us for an enlightening evening at the MOA!




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