''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 ''Film/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.
* 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 MrFanservice 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.
* CaptainSmoothAndSergeantRough: When young lieutenant O'Rourke seems embarrassed as he is about to train a platoon of recruits, the sergeants comment that young O'Rourke is a gentleman and training recruits is not a job for a gentleman. And then they take it over.
* 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]]. Then he becomes this once more when he goes back to die with his men.
* 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.
* CurbStompBattle: The ending is pretty much one of these for the Apaches; they nearly wipe out the entire regiment and seem to take almost no casualties. The only reason any of the regiment survived was that the Apaches ''chose'' to let them live.
* 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. (Although not before stick-up-his-butt Thursday reveals himself to be [[HiddenDepths a graceful dancer]] at the NCO ball.
* 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.
* {{Deconstruction}}: 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. The ending also shows how history is WrittenByTheWinners when [[spoiler:Thursday gets a posthumous HistoricalHeroUpgrade similar to Custer after Big Horn, while Colonel York grimaces as he lies about his "greatness"]].
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: See SceneryPorn.
* EndingMemorialService: Yorke's speech at the end: ''Collingwood and the rest. And they'll keep on living as long as the regiment lives. The pay is thirteen dollars a month; their diet: beans and hay. Maybe horsemeat before this campaign is over. Fight over cards or rotgut whiskey, but share the last drop in their canteens. The faces may change... the names... but they're there: they're the regiment... the regular army... now and fifty years from now. They're better men than they used to be. Thursday did that. He made it a command to be proud of.''
* 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.
* 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.
* GreyAndGreyMorality: Neither side is shown as particularly nice. The Apache's torture prisoners while TheGovernment tolerates corrupt treatment of Indians. At the same time there are honorable people on both sides.
* 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.
* ILied: York comes back from his peace parley and happily reports that Cochise has agreed to make peace, only to find out that the mission was a ruse by Thursday to lure Cochise back over the border so Thursday can attack him. York is horrified.
* IllTakeTwoBeersToo: The four sergeants approach the bar:
-->'''Sgt. Beaufort''': Four beers, please.\\
'''Sgt. Mulcahy''': And I'll have the same. With a whiskey chaser.
* 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''.
* LeeroyJenkins: Against orders Thursday picks a fight with Cochise (who's willing to negotiate), then leads a cavalry charge into a well-laid Apache ambush. Needless to say, things don't go well. Thursday becomes a martyr for the US Army, with even his subordinate Captain York (who despised him while alive) claiming "no man died more gallantly."
* ManlyTears: Sergeant-Major O'Rourke tries to hide them when his son returns home from West Point.
* 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.
* NoodleIncident: Something happened in the past to bring shame to Collingwood but glory to Thursday, which also ruined their friendship (note how Collingwood still addresses Thursday by his first name). The only hint given is when Thursday makes his way to the climactic LastStand and Collingwood says "This time ''you're'' late, Owen."
* 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.
* ReassignedToAntarctica: And Col. Thursday resents it, which is why he's such a dick to the men.
* {{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."
* 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.
* SkunkStripe: Thursday, the main antagonist, sports one of these.
* 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.
* SoldierVsWarrior: Bluecoats(soldiers) vs Apaches(warriors). The cavalry are [[PunchClockHero Punch Clock Heroes or Villains]] or both (depending on how you look at it) doing their job for TheGovernment, while the Apaches are an individualistic ProudWarriorRace.
* 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.")
* ThatsWhatIWouldDo: Why York tells Thursday that the Apache are hiding among the rocks, waiting to ambush the regiment. Thursday, who has no respect for the Apache, doesn't listen, and leads his regiment to destruction.
* 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.
* WeAreStrugglingTogether: As evidence of Apache prowess, Yorke tells of an attempted raid by the Sioux which met with a bloody disaster at Apache hands.
* 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.