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War Paint (1953 film)

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Adventure, War, Western



War Paint (1953 film) movie poster

C Fred Freiberger
William Tunberg

Release date
August, 1953 (USA)

Richard Alan Simmons, Martin Berkeley

(Lt. Billings), (Wanima), (Sgt. Clarke), (Taslik),
Peter Graves
(Trooper Tolson),
Robert J. Wilke
(Trooper Grady)

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Outdoor adventure that thunders across the screen!

War Paint is a 1953 Western film directed by Lesley Selander, starring Robert Stack and Joan Taylor. A U.S. Cavalry lieutenant is assigned to deliver a peace treaty to a powerful Indian chief, but two Indians have vowed to kill the officer before he completes his mission.


War Paint (1953 film) movie scenes

The film was shot in Pathecolor and filmed on location in Death Valley National Park.

War Paint (1953 film) movie scenes



The pre-credit sequence of the film starts out with Bureau of Indian Affairs Commissioner Kirby and the last survivor of his US Cavalry escort shot and scalped by Taslik (Keith Larsen) and his squaw Wanima (Joan Taylor).

War Paint movie posters at movie poster warehouse moviepostercom

The film proper begins with Lt. Billings (Robert Stack) leading his patrol, that has escorted Cpl Hamilton (Charles Nolte), a cartographer who has been making maps of the area. On the way back to the fort they are met by a messenger, who brings orders that they are to meet Commissioner Kirby (Richard H. Cutting) and his party at a trading post in order to deliver a recently signed Indian treaty from Washington to the chief of the local tribe. The messenger gives the treaty to the Lieutenant, who commandeers him to join his patrol. The patrol, who are unaware of the fate of Kirby and his party, have nine days to get the treaty to the chief, lest a new uprising start.

War Paint 1953 Stars Robert Stack Joan Taylor Charles McGraw

At the trading post is Taslik, who offers to lead the patrol to the chief. Taslik is wearing war paint that he explains is from his killing members of a rival tribe who have trespassed on his tribe's land.

War Paint 1953 IMDb

Unknown to the patrol, Taslik and Wanima, who is shadowing the patrol, are strongly against the peace treaty. The two sabotage the patrol's supplies at every turn in various undetected ways. On their journey the patrol discovers the remains of Commissioner Kirby's escort.

War paint 1953 Lesley Selander avec Robert Stack Page 2

The patrol finally get wise to Taslik when they discover that he has led them in a giant circle looking for water. With time rapidly vanishing, Lt. Billings collects all the remaining water of the rapidly diminishing patrol to fill one water bottle. This is given to one of the troopers, who is to make his way overland to the Indian village while the rest of the men conserve their strength by travelling only at night. Wanima ambushes the trooper and kills him but is wounded herself and becomes unconscious.

WarPaint Trailer YouTube

At night the patrol discovers what has happened, but Billings refuses to kill Wanima. This causes discontent among the patrol, who have lost other members through poisoned water and suicide. Wanima agrees to lead the patrol to water but leads them to an abandoned gold mine, setting them to killing each other off to satisfy their greed.


As appearing in screen credits (main roles identified):

  • Robert Stack as Lt. Billings
  • Joan Taylor as Wanima
  • Charles McGraw as Sgt. Clarke
  • Keith Larsen as Taslik
  • Peter Graves as Trooper Tolson
  • Robert J. Wilke as Trooper Grady (as Robert Wilke)
  • Walter Reed as Trooper Allison
  • John Doucette as Trooper Charnofsky
  • Douglas Kennedy as Trooper Clancy
  • Charles Nolte as Cpl. Hamilton
  • James Parnell as Trooper Martin
  • Paul Richards as Trooper Perkins
  • William Pullen as Jeb
  • Richard H. Cutting as Commissioner Kirby (as Richard Cutting)
  • Production

    War Paint was the first film of Howard W. Koch and Aubrey Schenck's Bel-Air Productions, who were initially signed to do three films for United Artists. As Schenck was then under contract to RKO Pictures, he did not have his name on the screenplay credits, though he initially wrote the story. Schenck recalled that when it looked as though the film financing wouldn't come in on time, Robert Stack offered to provide the money himself

    The initial draft of the screenplay featured a mercy killing that the Production Code of America objected to.


    War Paint (1953 film) Wikipedia
    War Paint (1953 film) IMDb War Paint (1953 film)

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