|The Last Frontier|
|Directed by||Anthony Mann|
|Written by||Philip Yordan|
Russell S. Hughes
|Based on||The Gilded Rooster|
by Richard Emery Roberts
|Produced by||William Fadiman|
|Cinematography||William C. Mellor|
|Edited by||Al Clark|
|Music by||Leigh Harline|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$1 million (US)|
The Last Frontier is a 1955 American Western film directed by Anthony Mann and starring Victor Mature, Guy Madison, Robert Preston, and Anne Bancroft. The film is set during the American Civil War at an isolated army base at the far reaches of the American frontier, where the Indians still far outnumber the whites.
Trapper Jed Cooper (Victor Mature) and his two best friends Gus (James Whitmore) and Mungo (Pat Hogan) are relieved of their possessions by some unfriendly Indians, so they seek shelter at a nearby army fort, commanded by Captain Riordan (Guy Madison). The captain recruits the three men as scouts. Also at the fort is Corrina Marston (Anne Bancroft), waiting for her missing husband, Colonel Frank Marston (Robert Preston).
Jed quickly falls in love with Mrs. Marston, sensing her ambivalence about her husband; when the colonel returns, he is revealed to be an unmitigated tyrant. Colonel Marston is driven to redeem himself after a disastrous battle at Shiloh, where over a thousand of his men were killed unnecessarily. Marston wants to attack the regional Indian chief, Red Cloud, believing this will restore his good name and return him to the battle back east. He ignores the fact that most of the men at the fort are raw recruits, hopelessly outnumbered and completely unprepared for the vicious fighting they will face with the Indians. Jed is faced with the decision of letting Marston go on with his mad scheme, or finding a way to do away with him.
- Victor Mature as Jed Cooper
- Guy Madison as Captain Glenn Riordan
- Robert Preston as Colonel Frank Marston
- James Whitmore as Gus
- Anne Bancroft as Corinna Marston
- Russell Collins as Captain Phil Clarke
- Peter Whitney as Sergeant Major Decker
- Pat Hogan as Mungo
The film was originally known as The Gilded Rooster, the title of the 1947 novel on which the script was based. Film rights were acquired by Columbia in 1953. Marlon Brando was sought for the title role. The role was eventually given to Victor Mature who had just signed a two-picture deal with Columbia.
Yordan says he rewrote the film coming up with the theme that the Mature character wanted to get into the army so he could woo a woman. "That's the whole picture—about a guy trying to get a blue uniform", he said.
- 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
- Borland, Hal (June 8, 1947). "The Indian Sign: THE GILDED ROOSTER. By Richard Emery Roberts. 249 pp. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. $2.75". New York Times. p. BR16.
- THOMAS M. PRYOR (April 24, 1953). "FILM WRITERS VOTE CHANGE ON CREDITS: Producers Get Right to Deny Listing to Communists or Those Silent on Charge". p. 30.
- Schallert, Edwin (July 12, 1954). "'Gilded Rooster' Crows for Brando; Guinness to Probe 'Life' in Paris". Los Angeles Times. p. B7.
- Hopper, Hedda (November 6, 1954). "Victor Mature Signs Deal for 2 Films at $200,000 Each". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 16.
- THOMAS M. PRYOR (November 20, 1954). "SPIEGEL ACQUIRES BOOK FILM RIGHTS: Producer Hopes to Get John Ford to Direct 'The Bridge Over the River Kwai'". New York Times. p. 10.
- THOMAS M. PRYOR (March 10, 1955). "3 WOLFE NOVELS WILL BE FILMED". New York Times. p. 32.
- McGilligan, Patrick (1991). Backstory 2: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1940s and 1950s. University of California Press. p. 357.