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I saw a Western years ago where a Charles Laughton lookalike gave smallpox blankets to the Indians. At the end of the movie the Indians wrapped him in the smallpox blankets. I have been trying to find the title for over 40 years. I believe it was from the 1940s or 1950s. thanks!

Dear Mike:

  I think (am not entirely sure) that the movie which you are looking for may revolve around the conflict involving British soldiers at Fort Pitt and their role in the Pontiac conspiracy and uprising.

  The Command is a 1954 movie starring Guy Madison, Gordon McRae, Joan Weldon and James Whitmore as the principal cast members.
Just before dying from wounds received in a skirmish with Indians Capt. Forsythe orders his cavalry troop's doctor, Capt. Robert MacClaw, to take command. His men don't like it and think that Sgt. Elliott should have been put in temporary command until they reach the Fort. MacClaw admits he knows little of battle tactics but takes charge only with the promise that he will do the best he can. If anything, the men are embarrassed at having such an inexperienced man leading them and MacClaw agrees not to let on that he's a doctor. When they arrive at a staging post they are ordered by the Colonel in command of a group of infantry to escort a wagon train of settlers moving west. There may be smallpox among them however and MacClaw is caught between his promise to his men and the demands of Martha Cutting who is trying to deal with the epidemic. The smallpox epidemic does come from infected Army blankets.

There is also a movie by the immortal Cecil B DeMille called "The Unconquered" (1947)
Based on Neil Swanson's Unconquered, a Novel of the Pontiac Conspiracy, the film focuses on "Abby" Hale (Paulette Goddard), who is condemned to death by a British court, then offered clemency if she will become an indentured servant in America. There is a bidding competition between Captain Christopher Holden (Gary Cooper) and Martin Garth (Howard Da Silva), which Holden wins. He then sets her free. Unfortunately, Garth is a sore loser; he kidnaps Abby and takes her to the western frontier, where he is involved in illegal arms sales to the Native Americans. Soon, Holden becomes involved in the conflict with the warring tribes and is reunited with Abby; he also has further confrontations with Garth and his henchman (Mike Mazurki).
 The villainous Garth is also trying to openly infect the Indians with disease as the film progresses.During the war launched by Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas,British soldiers from Fort Pitt attempted to infect the Indians with blankets exposed to smallpox. So this too is a possible film worth looking into.

I hope either one of these two options is the movie which you are looking for.If not, do not hesitate to contact me again.The time frame seems the most appropriate as well as several of the plot elements.

 take care and be blessed,

PS A wonderful woman named Nancy sent me this other possible name of the film which you are looking for and her answer indeed sounds possible and plausible to me as well. I cannot nor will not take credit for this find, but I praised Nancy for her diligence.

 Here is a copy of a question "Mike" posed to you in October 2013:

Expert: Bruce Simon - 10/18/2013

I saw a Western years ago where a Charles Laughton lookalike gave smallpox blankets to the Indians. At the end of the movie the Indians wrapped him in the smallpox blankets. I have been trying to find the title for over 40 years. I believe it was from the 1940s or 1950s. thanks!

Although you proffered two possibilities, Mike responded:  "Thanks for trying but those are not the movie. I guess I'll never get this answer."

I, too, had seen this movie as a child and the blanket-wrapping scene made an indelible mark on my mind. I, too, wished to refind the film and had been unable to do so, until now:  I am convinced that the title is "Battles of Chief Pontiac."

May I please trouble you to confirm my contention by visiting and, if you concur, to provide original enquirer Mike with the information?

Thank you very much indeed for your kind consideration and assistance.

All best wishes,


PS  It's interesting to me that both Mike and I had Charles Laughton in mind as the villain of the piece. Perhaps, that's what prevented us from identifying the movie sooner...

         Battles of Chief Pontiac

Director: Felix Feist (Dir)
Release Date:   Dec 1952
Production Date:   23 Jul--early Aug 1952
Duration (in mins):   71-72 or 74
Duration (in feet):   6,549

Cast:          Lex Barker          (Kent McIntire)
         Helen Westcott       (Winifred Lancaster)
         Lon Chaney [Jr.]     (Chief Pontiac)
         Berry Kroeger        (Col. von Weber)
         Roy Roberts          (Maj. Gladwin)
         Larry Chance         (Hawkbill)
         Katharine Warren     (Chia)
         Ramsey Hill          (Gen. Jeffrey Amherst)
         Guy Teague          (Von Weber's aide)
         James Fairfax        (Sentry)
         Abner George         (Doctor)

In the late 1700s, after British troops have driven the French out of the northern American territory, the British hire Hessian soldiers as reinforcements in their war against the Indians. Notoriously brutal Hessian commander von Weber launches surprise raids against Indian villages, ruthlessly killing men, women and children. Near Fort Detroit, Chief Pontiac, a spiritual and tribal leader, declares war against the whites because of the harsh new British rule. British general Jeffrey Amherst, meanwhile, congratulates von Weber on his successful campaign against the Indians. Amherst instructs von Weber, who hates all Indians because he was once captured and tortured by a tribe, to continue until the British can gain control of the Great Lakes region. While they are talking, Ranger Lieutenant Kent McIntire comes in and demands that Amherst put a halt to the butchery. Amherst, however, refuses to rein in von Weber and orders him to take command of Ft. Detroit away from Maj. Gladwin, who is sympathetic to the Indians. While returning to Ft. Detroit through the wilderness, Kent secretly speaks with Winifred Lancaster, the daughter of a British officer recently killed by the Indians, who is among a group of women taken hostage by Pontiac's warrior Hawkbill. Hawkbill captures Kent and takes him to Pontiac, who is Kent's "blood brother." Kent tells Pontiac about the British campaign against his tribe and warns him that Hessian reinforcements are being brought to the fort. Although Pontiac is committed to fighting the whites, he agrees to meet with Gladwin to discuss the possibility of peace. When Hawkbill starts to court Winifred, Kent claims her as his wife, pointing out a gold ring he had secretly given her as proof, and after a makeshift tribal wedding ceremony insisted upon by Pontiac, Winifred is accepted as family. Hawkbill, however, holds a grudge against Kent. Kent reports to Gladwin about his progress with Pontiac, but when von Weber takes over, he refuses to confer with Pontiac and threatens to arrest Gladwin when he insists that von Weber maintain the truce. Instead, von Weber sends a "gift" of clothing and blankets infested with smallpox to Pontiac's tribe, and plans to attack as soon as they are stricken by the illness. Kent revolts against von Weber and is arrested, but Gladwin helps him escape unharmed. At Pontiac's village, Winifred, who previously hated the Indians, has developed a newfound respect for them, and is distraught when her new friends become mortally ill with smallpox. Kent tells Pontiac that the disease is von Weber's doing, and Pontiac suggests that he and Winifred flee before the warriors find out. Kent and Winifred leave after they help boil the blankets and clothing to rid them of the disease. That night, they declare their love for each other and return to the fort after seeing von Weber march out with his troops. When Kent tells Gladwin that Pontiac is massing for war, Gladwin orders him to warn von Weber, who expects to ambush the Indians. Kent does not catch up to von Weber and his troops until after the Indians have made their initial attack. During a pause in the battle, Kent warns von Weber and his men to retreat, but von Weber shoots him. Pontiac and his men slaughter the soldiers and capture von Weber alive. At the Indian village, von Weber is tied to a post and covered in pestilence-ridden blankets, and in time, he becomes ill and dies. Gladwin and Winifred ride to the village bearing a white flag, and Pontiac agrees to consider peace, although the Great Spirit has advised him that all Indians will soon be overwhelmed by the whites. As Gladwin and Pontiac smoke a peace pipe, Winifred runs to embrace the wounded Kent

Here it is and I hope this solves the mystery for you!!!


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Bruce Simon


I can answer virtually any question concerning TV westerns since 1950. I also have collected Western movies faithfully since 1984 and own several hundred (prominent ones such as High Noon or How the West was Won) as well as B movies and below (White Comanche and The Sundowners)I own rare TV series such as Yancey Derringer,the 13 episodes of Tate with David Maclean, and select episodes of Judge Roy Bean


I have been a Western aficionado since the age of 8 (so for the last 50 years). I have been a faithful collector of Lone Ranger episodes and memorabilia since the early 1970s. I find myself drawn more to the black and white series because I find color an unnecessary plot distraction and love to study the evolution and settlement of the Old West through the leather bound Time-Life series on the West. The principal factor which attracts me to this period is the consistent triumph of virtue over vice. The forces of evil, no matter how malevolent, are never victorious in any Western. So I am appreciative of the inflexible morality set forth in most Western series

I have belonged to 5 different churches in 35 years where I have held posts of Sunday school teacher, outreach leader, and board member. Since my retirement to Rowlesburg, West Virginia, I have held the post of Town Park Commissioner for 2 years and anticipate a position on our Town Council beginning in July.

I was a free lance book reviewer for the Richmond Times Dispatch for 15 years, I reviewed 129 books during this period. I also reviewed 25 books for Style Weekly, an independent publication.

I have a BA in English Literature and a minor in Linguistics from Virginia Commonwealth University. I graduated in 1976. I also had a half year of Bible College from New Life Outreach in Richmond, Virginia (1984-1985)

Awards and Honors
While employed by the Richmond Public Library for 29 years, I have been honored for outstanding customer service and have received awards for creative programming for Young Adults on 2 occasions.

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I am still an expert for the category of mystery fiction on this website.

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