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Smoke in the Wind (1971)


Joseph Kane’s western tells the struggles of a post-Civil War Ozark Mountain family trying to prove they did not betray the Confederacy during the conflict. A platoon of Southerners victimize their community in the name of justice until the son of a man they shot bravely stands up to them. Actors included 60s teen heartthrob John Ashley and western veterans John Russell and Walter Brennan.

One review described it this way: “The War Between the States has just ended as the action in this work begins, following five Union soldiers as they return to their homes in the Ozarks of northern Arkansas, matter-of-factly planning a resumption of their pre-War existences. However, many residents from the village of Winslow and its surrounding region are averse to offering a helping hand to Yankees, Arkansas having been a member of the Confederacy. Nonetheless, some Winslow citizens are working to close the nation's divisiveness and it is to them that the returning veterans must look for support. Ongoing animosity between both factions in a recent war provides interesting material for a film; unfortunately, this one is not composed well with a result that it fails to develop interest for viewers.

Veteran director of Westerns Joe Kane is called from retirement as an attempt to rescue this faltering production, but he is not enough to offset a stale script and a great deal of deficient acting. Cinematographer Mario Tosi creates a visually sensuous environment, one that correctly utilizes natural light; the sound mixing, however, is eccentric. The Ozark location is extraordinarily beautiful, and Tosi takes full advantage of its luxuriance so that in each scene, notwithstanding the action's failure to consistently draw in the viewer, there remains much to enjoy in the pictorial sense; 'tis less than providential that for Kane's swan song, the landscape steals the show.”


Internet Movie Database


Winslow is located in the northwest Arkansas Ozarks via U.S. 71 or via I-540.


This was the last feature film for both actor Walter Brennan and director Joseph Kane. It was also the final acting performance for Billy E. Hughes. From about 1960 to 1963, Hughes was a promising young actor. Due to family issues he left Hollywood while his career was rising. By the time he was able to return, his former career had evaporated, and this became his last credited movie role. Hughes died in Alma, Arkansas in 2005.