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Pillars of the Sky is a 1956 American CinemaScope Technicolor Western film directed by George Marshall starring Jeff Chandler and Dorothy Malone, with co-stars Ward Bond, Keith Andes, Lee Marvin and Sydney Chaplin.[2]

Pillars of the Sky
Pillars of the Sky-large.jpg
Directed byGeorge Marshall
Produced byRobert Arthur
Written byHeck Allen
(as Will Henry)
Screenplay bySam Rolfe
StarringJeff Chandler
Dorothy Malone
Ward Bond
Keith Andes
Lee Marvin
Sydney Chaplin
CinematographyHarold Lipstein
Edited byMilton Carruth
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • October 12, 1956 (1956-10-12) (New York City)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.5 million (US)[1]


Oregon Country 1868: Indians of many tribes trust Sgt. Emmett Bell, who rides into Dr. Joseph Holden's mission with his Indian scouts. However, troop and weapon movements by new U.S. Cavalry commanding officer Col. Steadlow have endangered the peace and angered the chiefs, in particular one called Kamiakin. An outraged Bell tries to appeal to Steadlow as well as Capt. Tom Gaxton, whose wife Calla was once in love with him. Calla and another woman are taken captive but are rescued by Bell, rekindling his and Calla's romance.

The Indians ambush a large cavalry patrol and, after a fierce fight, the soldiers break through the Indians and manage to escape to Holden's mission, using it as a fortification against an expected attack. Appeals for a truce go in vain. However, a particularly bloodthirsty act by Kamiakin results in his being killed by one of his own, whereupon Bell and the chiefs agree to do whatever is necessary to restore the peace.



The film was partly shot on location in Oregon over six weeks. At one stage it was announced the film was going to be directed by John Ford and star John Wayne.[3]

Filming started August 1955.[4]

Evaluation in film guidesEdit

Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide gives Pillars of the Sky 2½ stars (out of 4) in a one-sentence write-up which states that "Chandler is apt as swaggering army officer...", with Steven H. Scheuer's Movies on TV also arriving at the 2½ stars (out of 4) rating, deciding that "Western fans will buy this tale of a no-account, hard-drinking, woman-chasing Sgt. who finally sees the error of his ways..."

The Motion Picture Guide makes it unanimous (among the three cited sources), with its 2½-star (out of 5) description of the production as "a relatively satisfying cowboys and Indians film starring Chandler as a cavalry scout who is literally a voice in the wilderness..." and, in conclusion, adds, "[G]ood cast. The outdoor location shooting was done in Oregon".

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
  2. ^ Thompson, Howard [under byline: H.H.T.] (October 13, 1956). "Screen: Pillars of the Sky; Western at the Globe Stars Jeff Chandler". New York Times. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  3. ^ Passafiume, Andrea. "Pillars of the Sky", Turner Classic Movies accessed 11 November 2012
  4. ^ Baja California Wagon Trip Inspires Unique Film; Cummings Deal On Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 13 Aug 1955: 13.

External linksEdit