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» » Captain John Smith and Pocahontas (1953)

Short summary

Captain John Smith (Anthony Dexter), returned fom the Jamestown colony, is telling his story before the Court of King James I (Anthony Eustral.) He tells of the unrest in the colony and how he set out to make peace with the Indians. He is captured and sentenced to death, but Pocahontas (Jody Lawrence) makes her celebrated intervention and, instead of a slaying, there is a wedding. Back at Jamestown, Smith makes efforts to keep the colony united and the Indians from attacking, in spite of the efforts of some in the colony who stir up trouble for their own gain. He exposes them and returns to England to give his report. He stays because Pocahontas, thinking he is dead, has remarried.

It is highly unlikely that Smith's version of his relationship with Pocahontas is true. When he first retold the events of 1608 in 1616, the Indian princess was, by his account, ten years old. On later retelling of those same events, she grew to twelve or thirteen. It was later discovered that Smith had told another, extremely similar story of being rescued by a young Turkish girl in 1602. Smith's stories about his relationship did not begin until 1616, when Pocahontas traveled to London with husband John Rolfe and was celebrated as Native American royalty.

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: TheFresh
    This whitewashed version of the story doesn't say much about the disastrous first attempt at the Jamestown colony but despite the whitewashing, gets most of the subsequent story right. Jody Lawrence is a beautiful Pocahontas but looks to be in her twenties rather than the teen she really was. Unfortunately the Indians, in typical Hollywood ignorance of the day, are all wrong, looking like Sioux or other plains tribes instead of the southeastern coastals. But the basic story of her critical intervention is well told. Dexter is rather wooden and is so upstaged by Robert Clarke (better looking, and better actor) as John Rolfe, that the title almost needed to be changed to "John Rolfe and Pocahontas" since she became Mrs. John Rolfe anyway. A nice tribute to the Native American lady and an interesting glimpse of the commemorative statue raised to her memory in Britain adds a nice touch to the film. Nothing was mentioned about the gallant lady dying very young in London, thousands of miles from her home after succumbing to a rapid bout of white man's consumption (tuberculosis) The print I saw retained its original glorious color which added much to the effect, as did the period costumes.
  • comment
    • Author: Urreur
    ANTHONY DEXTER (he played "Valentino", the silent screen matinée idol), is the nominal star of CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH AND POCAHONTAS but his wooden performance suffers by comparison to the just as attractive ROBERT CLARKE who plays John Rolfe.

    JODY LAWRENCE makes a pretty Pocahontas but is somewhat unbelievable as the Indian maiden who saves Smith's life. ALAN HALE, JR. stands out in the supporting cast and DOUGLAS DUMBRILLE is effective as Powhatan

    The Pathe color is weaker than Technicolor but the photography is still visually arresting and so are the sets and costumes. All of the familiar ingredients are here--the Indian attacks, the treacherous conspirators, etc.--but there is little character development between a series of Indian skirmishes with relentless attacks on the fort.

    Trivia note: Has anyone noticed that JAMES SEAY, as a bad colonist who sells guns to the Indians, looks more like Alan Hale than Alan Hale, Jr.?

    Action fans should get their money's worth. There's a final attack on the fort that is staged for maximum effect.

    Summing up: A lean, sketchy, less inspired treatment of the story than many other versions that followed, including the Disney animated film, but pleasing enough in a simplistic sort of way.
  • comment
    • Author: Urllet
    After having made a bit of a splash as "Valentino," Dexter took part in several films that further suggested him as a dashing hero in the silent star mold. One of them, "The Brigand," cast him in a dual role as a King and a commoner who masquerades as the King and costarred Lawrence as his love interest. They teamed up again in this independent production as the title icons, though this must be counted as a more minor effort. It's early 1600s Jamestown, Virginia and Dexter is trying to forge a settlement out of the swamp while fending off distrusting Indians and impending starvation. One day, while seeking to reach peace with the head of the nearby tribe, he comes upon the chief's daughter Lawrence bathing and tries to establish a connection. A short time later he is captured and nearly killed, but she steps in to save his life. Soon, they are wed and she is a symbolic liaison between the settlers and the natives. Unfortunately, shifty Seay, a nobleman who is part of the settlement, wishes for it to fail so that he can lay claim to gold in the area, so he tries to thwart anything that will lead to unity and success. Meanwhile, Clarke, Dexter's pal, finds himself caring more and more for Lawrence himself even though he knows he shouldn't. Eventually, Seay's duplicity leads to an accident for Dexter and an uprising that threatens the future of Jamestown. Dexter, an actor who is practically unknown except to film buffs and who showed more promise than he was permitted to deliver, is not really at his best here. He starts off rather athletically with plenty of action, showing off his physique (which is maybe a little undernourished by today's standards) and making a decent impression, but eventually gets a bit lost in the tedium and starts to lose impact. A simplistic script and fairly uninspired direction do him no favors. Lawrence is lovely and pretty spunky, but often comes off rather silly with her blues eyes, perfect red lips and pigeon English. She gets credit for maintaining her dignity and for demonstrating a sense of integrity, but is hampered by some of the silly conventions of the era. Clarke is an amiable, pleasant presence though his character was not at Jamestown at the same time as Dexter's in real life. Hale appears as a burly and loyal settler in a way that fans of his will find familiar. Seay (whose real life counterpart was not at all this devious and trouble-making) is adequately selfish and thoughtless. Dumbrille plays the Indian chief and could really have used a hairpipe breastplate to cover up those moobs. The natives are portrayed by a wide variety of Caucasian actors in heavy tan makeup. Menken, as a brave with affections for Lawrence, has a disarmingly flat American accent. Though the action scenes are sprightly and enthusiastic, they are often incompetently staged to where the choreography is obvious and the bloody wounds are frequently muffed. More than once, an actor makes a pained expression and then lifts a bloody hand to his face, smearing it as if he's been injured in the head. The story is treated, at times, at an almost comic book level. That said, it's a colorful, pretty fast-moving and certainly, at 76 minutes, not overlong movie. Like most other films on the subject, some bits of the truth remain while plenty of fabrication is also on hand. One's tolerance for the film may vary depending on one's devotion to the facts.
  • comment
    • Author: Gerceytone
    This independent production of the famous story coming out of Jamestown's founding released from United Artists plays like a combination of one of those educational films and a Grade C western. Even the Indians are made up to look like plains Indians instead the ones east of the Mississippi.

    The story of how Captain John Smith was saved by Pocahontas pleading for his life is only the beginning here. Some upper class types who don't like the way Smith has taken over the leadership of the Jamestown colonists start trading ancient matchlock rifles with the Indians and later frame one of them for a colonist's murder. It's so dumb, I don't even think the Saturday afternoon kid matinée crowd swallowed this one.

    Anthony Dexter who never quite got the career that playing Rudolph Valentino was supposed to bring him is Captain Smith and Jody Lawrence is Pocahontas. Douglass Dumbrille is an impassive and suspicious Powhattan and James Seay is the villain Wingfield who's behind all the nasty goings on. They all go through the motions essentially, I think they realize how dumb it was.

    The Jamestown story actually deserves a good film. It was more disease and the elements in a new land that the settlers faced rather than the native inhabitants. Remember the Indians hadn't yet learned how grabby the white man was.

    The story deserves a good film, but this isn't it. The Walt Disney cartoon had more going for it.
  • comment
    • Author: lifestyle
    Squirm producing account of the Captain John Smith, Pocahontas and the founding of Jamestown. Its stiltedly acted, directed to look more like tableaux rather than real life and so historically inaccurate as to make one shake one's head and wonder if the filmmakers paid any sort of attention in history class. Whats worse is the whole thing plays like a poor educational film that one had to suffer through when in grammar school. My question is not so much why was the film made (I'm guessing it seemed like a good idea at the time) rather why was this film released on DVD when the film is clearly a dog. I'm all for every film being able to be seen and not buried, but there are some films that just aren't worth the time and money lavished on a remastered release. Frankly this one is a snoozer and its easy to understand why this ended up in the bargain bin. Avoid this film if you can.
  • Complete credited cast:
    Anthony Dexter Anthony Dexter - Capt. John Smith
    Jody Lawrance Jody Lawrance - Pocahontas (as Jody Lawrence)
    Alan Hale Jr. Alan Hale Jr. - Fleming
    Robert Clarke Robert Clarke - Rolfe
    Stuart Randall Stuart Randall - Opechanco
    James Seay James Seay - Wingfield
    Philip Van Zandt Philip Van Zandt - Davis
    Shepard Menken Shepard Menken - Nantaquas
    Douglass Dumbrille Douglass Dumbrille - Powhatan (as Douglas Dumbrille)
    Anthony Eustrel Anthony Eustrel - King James
    Henry Rowland Henry Rowland - Turnbull
    Eric Colmar Eric Colmar - Kemp
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