Saturday, March 26, 2011

Black Hills featured in "The Savage"

In 1952, well-respected actor Charlton Heston and a crew filmed "The Savage" in South Dakota's Black Hills. I've also seen the film listed with a bit less controversial title of "Warbonnet."

The story revolves around Heston's character who as a boy is adopted into the Sioux tribe after Crow Indians murder his father and the rest of the wagon train they were traveling with. His loyalty to each race is central to the plot.

For those of us interested in South Dakota as a setting for Hollywood spectaculars, this is an entertaining film. Unfortunately, the portrayal of Native Americans is one of those early attempts with much stereotyping and insulting dialogue. The colorization in the version available at NetFlix doesn't really help. Red, blue and yellow feathers seem much more at home in a souvenir shop than adorning actual Native shields and lances.

Several scenes are very recognizable if you are familiar with the Black Hills and Custer State Park.

I bet many vacationers that do the horseback rides each summer from Heritage Village near Crazy Horse Memorial have no idea that a movie wagon train traveled the very same path they are following.

Custer State Park's Stockade Lake is featured prominently in several scenes, including two raids on a Crow camp.

The valley in Custer State Park known as "Movie Draw" is the backdrop for this scene of the Sioux capturing wild horses.

I would have loved to have been there for the filming of this stunt. A wagon load of dynamite is shoved over a rocky cliff and explodes on impact. I'm not sure exactly where this spot is, but it somewhat reminds me of the Strato Bowl area outside of Rapid City.

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