The Charge at Feather River

The Charge at Feather River, a 1953 Western film directed by Gordon Douglas, was originally released in 3D with lots of arrows, lances, and other weapons flying directly at the audience in several scenes.[2]

The Charge at Feather River
Promotional poster advertising the release of the film in 3-D
Directed byGordon Douglas
Produced byDavid Weisbart
Written byJames R. Webb
StarringGuy Madison
Frank Lovejoy
Helen Westcott
Vera Miles
Dick Wesson
Onslow Stevens
Steve Brodie
James Brown
Music byMax Steiner
CinematographyJ. Peverell Marley
Edited byFolmar Blangsted
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • June 30, 1953 (1953-06-30) (Vernon, Texas)
  • July 11, 1953 (1953-07-11) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.65 million (US)[1]

The movie is most notable for originating the name of the "Wilhelm scream",[3] a sound effect used in the Star Wars film series,[4] as well as countless other movies including the Indiana Jones franchise,[5] Disney cartoons and The Lord of the Rings film series.[6] In February 2018 it was announced Star Wars will no longer use Wilhelm scream.[7][8] Sound designer Ben Burtt named the sound after "Pvt. Wilhelm", a minor character in the film who emits the famous scream after being shot by an arrow (although the recording actually originated in the Gary Cooper film Distant Drums in 1951). When the film screened at the Second World 3-D Expo at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre in 2006, much of the film-savvy audience broke into applause when Pvt. Wilhelm screamed.

The climax of the film has many similarities to the 1868 Battle of Beecher Island, though instead of Army Frontier Scouts, Madison's character recruits "the Guardhouse Brigade" from Army prisoners and arms them with repeating rifles. Some have also noticed that the plot bears a number of similarities to the later Major Dundee, directed by Sam Peckinpah in 1965, notably the journey leading up to the climactic stand-off.



  1. "The Top Box Office Hits of 1953". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC. January 13, 1954.
  2. Erick, Hal. "The Charge at Feather River". Allrovi. Rovi Corp. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  3. Valjak, Domagoj (23 April 2018). "The origin of the Wilhelm scream, the most famous sound effect in the history of cinema". The Vintage News. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  4. Jung, Pea (29 August 2016). Xmas Wars - Crazy about Han. Translated by Forsdick, Charlotte. Babelcube Inc. p. 33. ISBN 9781507150726.
  5. Winters, Patrick (23 January 2017). Sound Design for Low & No Budget Films. Taylor & Francis. p. 61. ISBN 9781317557937.
  6. Malone, Lee Gjertsen (23 February 2016). The Last Boy at St. Edith's. Simon and Schuster. p. 55. ISBN 9781481444378.
  7. Kurp, Josh (21 February 2018). "A 'Star Wars' Tradition Dating Back To The Original Movie Has Been Retired". Uproxx. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  8. Dillon, Ananda (21 February 2018). "Star Wars Has Abandoned the Iconic Wilhelm Scream". Retrieved 24 August 2018.
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