White Feather (film)

White Feather is a 1955 Technicolor CinemaScope western film directed by Robert D. Webb and starring Robert Wagner. The movie was filmed in Durango, Mexico. The story is based on fact; however, the particulars of the plot and the characters of the story are fictional.[n 1]

White Feather
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert D. Webb
Produced byRobert L. Jacks
Screenplay byDelmer Daves
Leo Townsend
Based onMy Great-Aunt Appearing Day
1952 story in Lilliput magazine
by John Prebble
StarringRobert Wagner
Jeffrey Hunter
John Lund
Debra Paget
Music byHugo Friedhofer
CinematographyLucien Ballard
Edited byGeorge A. Gittens
Panoramic Pictures
Distributed byTwentieth Century Fox
Release date
  • February 16, 1955 (1955-02-16)
Running time
102 mins.
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.65 million (US rentals)[2][3]

Plot synopsis

The story of the peace mission from the US cavalry to the Cheyenne Indians in Wyoming during the 1870s. The Cheyenne agree to leave their hunting grounds so that white settlers can move in to search for gold. Colonel Lindsay (John Lund) and land surveyor Josh Tanner (Robert Wagner)[n 1] are in charge of the resettlement, but the mission is threatened when Appearing Day (Debra Paget),[n 1] the sister of Little Dog (Jeffrey Hunter) and fiancé of Cheyenne tribesman American Horse (Hugh O'Brian), falls for Tanner. When Appearing Day runs away to join Tanner at the fort, American Horse follows and while he is captured, he is later freed by Little Dog and the two ride off to the hills. Tanner, Col. Lindsay and a troop of soldiers go to the Cheyenne camp where Chief Broken Hand (Eduard Franz) has agreed to sign a peace treaty. After the signing, a warrior rides up and throws down a knife with a white feather attached, a declaration of war by American Horse and Little Dog against all the soldiers. Tanner convinces the Chief to allow the matter to be resolved between themselves.



The film was based on the magazine story My Great Aunt Appearing Day by John Prebble which concerns a Native American woman who marries a British major.[5]

Film rights were purchased by Panoramic Productions, a company under Leonard Goldstein, who had a ten picture deal with 20th Century Fox. Delmer Daves did the original script. It was the last of Panoramic's ten picture deal (replacing another intended project, Hawk of the Desert) before they left to set up at United Artists, and their first in CinemaScope. Robert Webb was assigned to direct and Robert Jacks (vice president at Panoramic) to produce. The lead cast originally announced in June 1954 were all Fox contractees - Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, Terry Moore, Dale Robertson and Rita Moreno.[6]

Moreno was replaced by Debra Paget.[7] Moore and Robertson would not appear in the final film.

Filming began in July 1954 in Durango, Mexico.[8] It was the first Hollywood movie shot in Durango, which would become a regular location for Hollywood films, especially Westerns.[9]

Early into the shoot, Goldstein died unexpectedly.[10]


The film was a moderate box-office success earning North American rentals of $1,650,000.[3]

See also


  1. For instance, Josh Tanner's real name was Charles Petley, while Appearing Day is elsewhere called Dawn.[4]


  1. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p249
  2. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p226
  3. 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
  4. Jan Prebble (2013). Forty two years a secret mistress. Author House. p. 61. ISBN 9781491883853. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  5. MANTLE OF BENNETT Davenport, John. The Observer (16 Mar 1958: 16.
  6. FOX TO RELEASE 'WHITE FEATHER': Last of 10 Movies Made by Panoramic Is a Western to Be Directed by Webb By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. 05 June 1954: 11.
  7. HESTON TO CO-STAR WITH JANE WYMAN: Paramount Is Negotiating for Their Services in Romantic Drama, 'Lucy Gallant' By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]23 June 1954: 22.
  8. Ericson Latest 'Black Rock' Star; New Deals On for Darnell, Cagney Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 14 July 1954: B7.
  9. 'Feather' in Durango's cap has gotten a little dusty; The Mexican city that became a top setting for Hollywood films nearly 50 years ago hopes for a comeback.: [HOME EDITION] Wielenga, Dave. Los Angeles Times 20 Apr 2003: E.12.
  10. 2 GOLDSTEIN AIDES TRY TO SAVE FIRM: Talk With United Artists on Film Agreement Made by Producer Before Death New York Times 31 July 1954: 6.
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