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''Fort Apache'' is a 1948 Republic Pictures {{Western}} film starring Creator/JohnWayne, Creator/HenryFonda, Creator/ShirleyTemple, her then-husband John Agar, Ward Bond, Victor [=McLaglen=], Pedro Armendariz, and directed by Creator/JohnFord. ''Fort Apache'' is considered, with ''SheWoreAYellowRibbon'' (1949) and ''Rio Grande'' (1950), a part of Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy."

Essentially a fictional retelling of the Battle of Little Bighorn, relocated to Monument Valley and using Apache instead of Sioux, the film details the arrival post-Civil War of by-the-book West Point graduate Colonel Owen Thursday (Fonda) to a remote and run-down cavalry post deep in Indian territory. Thursday quickly works to shape up the ragtag group of soldiers, occasionally butting heads with his underling Captain York (Wayne), a less educated but more experienced officer especially with dealing with the local tribes. When the Apache under Cochise rise up against the corruption of a government Agent, Thursday sees the brewing conflict as a chance to reclaim some of the glory he had during the Civil War, despite the protests by York that the Apache have legitimate grievances, and that the Apache are better fighters than Thursday thinks.

The movie's subplot involves Thursday's daughter (played by Temple) Philadelphia (don't get started on where she gets her name) falling in love with the fresh-from-the-academy Lt. O'Rourke (Agar). Colonel Thursday doesn't approve of the potential match, primarily because O'Rourke's father (also stationed at the fort) is an enlisted man, but it's implied also due to then-prejudices against the Irish.

Not to be confused with the 1981 ''Fort Apache, The Bronx'', which is about an [[NewYorkCityCops NYPD]] precinct in [[TheBigRottenApple South Bronx]] (although the "Fort Apache" part is invoked).

!!This film is associated with the following tropes:

* TheAlcoholic: Most of the Sergeants play up this trope, especially Mulcahy ([=McLaglen=]). When the Sergeants spike the drink at the dance, it's Mulcahy who finishes off the whole bowl when the dance is cut short.
** Also the fort's medical officer, in a more gentlemanly way.
* UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar: A lot of the characters are at least partly defined by what they did in the war, and in particular the higher ranks they had in it. Owen Thursday obviously was a general of volunteers who after the war was restored to his lower regular army rank. Sergeant Beaufort was a Confederate major, and Sergeant-Major O'Rourke an infantry captain in the Irish Brigade of the Union Army. And there was that [[NoodleIncident mysterious action in the war]] that brought glory to Thursday and shame to Collingwood.
** The NoodleIncident could also be viewed as [[EpilepticTrees an alternate universe version of Little Big Horn where both the Gen. Custer analogue (Thursday) and the Major Reno analogue (Collingwood) survived, and the Custer analogue managed to spin things to his advantage.]]
* AntiVillain: The Apache, especially Cochise. It's explained early and often in the film that the natives have legitimate issues with the corrupt Agent.
* BasedOnAGreatBigLie: Years after Thursday wiped out half his own troops, York is in command of Fort Apache and is preparing a campaign to capture the latest Apache rebel Geronimo. Chatting with reporters covering the campaign, they mention a flattering portrait of Thursday's doomed last stand hanging in Washington DC, discussing how heroic Thursday must have been in leading that charge. York, knowing the real story but also knowing that the truth would hurt army morale, goes along with the false story. This is also [[TruthInTelevision Truth in Television]] as people covered up the blunders made at the real Battle of Little Big Horn for decades.
* BeautyEqualsGoodness: In spades with Lt. Mickey O'Rourke, who is very much presented as EstrogenBrigadeBait early in the movie. Inverted with Sergeant Mulcahy.
* BlingOfWar: Thursday insists that his officers' uniforms conform strictly to regulations, putting a stop to the more practical dress they had worn until then. And at the big dance they are all wearing full dress uniforms and medals.
* CatchPhrase: "Any questions, Captain?" "No questions."
** Becomes an IronicEcho at the end when Thursday charges back into the massacre to join his doomed men.
*** And York picks up the VerbalTic when ''he'' becomes the commanding officer at Fort Apache.
* ColonelBadass: Col. Thursday ... well, sort of... at least until he orders the infamous Thursday's Charge, which results in the [[SuicidalOverConfidence utter destruction of half the regiment]].
* ConflictingLoyalty: The film explores this a lot especially with family relationships vs. army, starting with a scene at the beginning in which the Sergeants first flawlessly salute 2nd lieutenant O'Rourke, then playfully spank him. And then big softy Sgt. Mulcahy goes all misty-eyed as he proudly introduces his godson to Philadelphia. The thing is that these concurrent relationships result in different hierarchies -- Sgt.-Major O'Rourke is his son's and Col. Thursday's inferior on duty, but still on occasion can assert his authority as a father on Lt. O'Rourke (unless Mrs. O'Rourke decides to assert hers as Woman of the House) and can show Col. Thursday the door when he intrudes into his home.
* DancesAndBalls: There are two - an officers' ball in honour of Washington's birthday and the Non-Commissioned Officers' Ball. It is no coincidence that ''both'' are rudely interrupted by Colonel Thursday.
* DeathEqualsRedemption: To his credit, when Thursday realizes what he'd done, he charges back into the ambush knowing it will mean his death. His death also means that Thursday's daughter Philadelphia will be free to marry the young Lt. O'Rourke, and O'Rourke's father lampshades this by pointing out that Thursday can apologize in the afterlife to their grandchildren.
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: See SceneryPorn.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Thursday regards Meacham as beneath contempt.
* FirstNameBasis: Collingwood and his wife to Owen Thursday - a memento of the times when they were equals and close friends.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: during the introductions between Thursday and the Apache leaders, one of the Indian lieutenants is presented as Geronimo. At the end of the movie, York is leading his troops out to capture Geronimo, now leading another uprising against unjust conditions.
* [[TheGeneralsDaughter The General's Daughter]]: Philadelphia -- who is, at least, the Colonel's daughter.
* GloryHound: To some extent Colonel Thursday. Defeating the despised Apache becomes a much more attractive proposition to him after he finds out that Cochise is famous enough to make national newspaper headlines.
* HeroicSacrifice: Very understated: "You'll find Lieutenant O'Rourke with his troop, sir."
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: The most prominent is the Apache leader Cochise. One of his supporters is Geronimo. Robert E. Lee gets name-dropped by Col. Thursday while giving out orders to set up a trap using Lt. O'Rourke as bait. Thursday himself is an stand-in of Col. George Armstrong Custer as the movie is a re-telling of the Battle of Little Big Horn.
* [[http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ptitlegvrlc0fm I'll Take Four Beers Too]]
* ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy: The usual pattern from Westerns, where Indians are shown as bad shots that engage in headlong charges that make them easy targets is inverted in the scene where the cavalry charges recklessly into a canyon and is picked off by Apache sharpshooters from both sides.
* InjunCountry: The setting, and the fort's ''raison d'etre''.
* ManlyTears: Sergeant-Major O'Rourke tries to hide them when his son returns home from West Point.
* {{Mexican-AmericanWar}}: Bizarrely, Thursday refers to Robert E. Lee as "Captain Lee", ''i. e''. by the rank Lee held when that war began. He also refers to Napoleon as "Bonaparte".
** It highlights [[TheResenter the contempt Thursday has]] for military leaders who had achieved greater glory than he had.
* NakedFirstImpression: Lieutenant Mickey O'Rourke is first seen by Philadelphia bare-chested in the stage-coach station's washroom. She does not avert her eyes.
* TheNeidermeyer: Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday (modeled on the real-life George Armstrong Custer) is an arrogant martinet to his own men (even after explicitly saying that he is ''not''); out of class snobbishness, obstructs the path of True Love between his daughter and a young lieutenant because the latter is the son of an Irish noncom; sees war as a path to personal glory; provokes a conflict with the Apaches that better diplomacy could have avoided; and, worst of all, gets most of his regiment slaughtered through tactical incompetence and stubborn refusal to listen to Captain York, who knows the Apaches much better. For all of that, York credits him with improving the quality of the regiment through his strict discipline.
** Owen Thursday's charactization as an arrogant, aging martinet with no social skills whatsoever, is actually rather different from the flamboyant Custer, whose attitude to non-regulation dress and hair was actually the opposite of Thursday's. What they have in common is bitterness towards the government which in their view did not properly recognize their brilliance in UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar and a fatal show of incompetence in their last battle.
* NiceHat: Colonel Thursday's iconic, if somewhat ludicrous cap-and-havelock combination which in the final scene is also worn by Colonel York.
* NotSoDifferent: York clearly empathizes with Cochise and would probably do just what he did in his place. But he continues [[JustFollowingOrders to do what he feels is his duty]].
** Cochise knows this from the exchanged glance they have at the parley, which is why he stops the Apache attack right in front of York and turns back, showing his respect.
* OverprotectiveDad: Col. Thursday. He doesn't want his daughter Philadelphia seeing that dashing young Irish lieutenant, so much so that he sends O'Rourke on a [[TheUriahGambit seeming suicide mission]] to fix telegraph cables as bait.
* PeelingPotatoes: After a drunken binge, Sgts. Beaufort, Mulcahy, Shattuck, and Quincannon are demoted to privates and are seen shoveling horse manure.
* {{Retirony}}: Captain Sam Collingwood is trying to get moved from the eponymous Fort to an instructing position at West Point. When his wife finally gets the letter saying that his transfer went through, he is riding off with the regiment to confront the Apaches. Someone tells her to go, to run and tell him that he should come back, but she says "Sam isn't a coward", and then twists the knife by handing the letter back to the message-boy, saying "Keep it. For the captain's return."
* [[{{Deconstruction}} Revisionist Western]]: This was one of the earliest Westerns to [[FairForItsDay depict with some sympathy the plight of the Indians.]] The Apache are suffering at the hands of a corrupt government Indian Agent, with little recourse but to flee the reservation to force the military's hand to get rid of that agent. Instead, it's the racist Thursday, who's dismissive of Apache fighting skills and itching for a glorious military victory, who aggravates the situation and [leads half his men to their doom. And when Captain York stands alone as the Apache charge at him, they stop right in his presence and turn back, demonstrating that they honor soldiers who respect them and aren't the violent savages depicted in other Western films of the day.
* TheSavageIndian: How the arrogant Thursday views the Apaches.
* SceneryPorn: It's Creator/JohnFord directing a {{Western}}. There's Monument Valley in all the exterior shots.
** Camera-man Archie Stout used infrared black-and-white film stock to create more vivid landscapes. However, it meant the actors had to wear dark-toned make-up to appear normal on screen.
* ShoutOut: The ChaseScene with the four Sergeants and Lt. O'Rourke recreates the climactic chase from Ford's own ''Film/{{Stagecoach}}'', including many individual shots. In all likelihood Ford filmed it in the exact same spot in Monument Valley.
* SoundOff: "It was Sergeant John [=McCafferty=] and Corporal Donahue..."
* TheSquad: While there's a whole cavalry regiment in this movie, we really see the Sergeants -- O'Rourke, Beaufort, Mulcahy, Shattuck, and Quincannon -- [[TrueCompanions doing their part]].
* TactfulTranslation: Slightly inverted, in that Cochise calls the Indian agent Meacham "''un hombre malvado, que no dice la verdad''," which Sergeant Beaufort renders as "a yellow-bellied polecat of dubious antecedents and conjectural progeny." (It literally means "an evil man, who does not speak the truth.")
* ThrowingDownTheGauntlet: York spends half the movie trying to explain to Thursday that the Colonel needs to respect the Apache better. When Thursday derisively slams one last suggestion back in York's face accusing the Captain of "cowardice," York has had enough and throws down his glove at Thursday's feet, [[DuelToTheDeath demanding satisfaction]]. Thursday ignores it and relieves York of command, sending him back with the supply wagons in seeming shame...
* TyrantTakesTheHelm: The villain of this arc is Thursday, yet again.
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: As noted, the main plot is a retelling of the Little Big Horn, transplanted to Arizona.
* TheWildWest
* WorthyOpponent: York and Cochise regard each other that way. Colonel Thursday on the other hand...
* YouAreInCommandNow: At the end, Thursday realizes he's led half his army to their deaths, and he refuses York's offer to drag him to safety. Asking for York's saber (to rejoin his doomed men), Thursday snorts "When you command this regiment, and you probably will, '''command it!'''" With Thursday's death, York ''does'' gain command.