Dempsey Rae, a cowboy with no clear aim in life, winds up working on a spread with a hard lady owner just arrived from the East. She needs a tough new top hand and uses all her means of ... See full summary »
On a Greek island during the 1912 war, several people are trapped by quarantine for the plague. If that isn't enough worry, one of the people, a superstitious old peasant woman, suspects ... See full summary »
A young Canadian nurse (Betsy) comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager (Paul Holland). Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis ... See full summary »
Silver has been found on comanche territory and the government accomplished a peaceful agreement with the indians. When James 'Jim' Bowie comes into the scene he finds the white settlers ... See full summary »
Martin Scorsese narrates this tribute to Val Lewton, the producer of a series of memorable low-budget horror films for RKO Studios. Raised by his mother and his aunt, his films often ... See full summary »
As Lt. Jed Sayre struggles to prevent pre-Civil War tensions and a racist commanding officer from triggering war between the U.S. Cavalry and Navajo Indians, he finds his efforts are being ... See full summary »
When Cochise bands together with Geronimo and other Indian nations, Major Colton abandons his fort, heading towards Fort Sheridan, through Apache Pass. Only thing in his way are the Indians he used to call his friends.
The "Apache" Indians are actually lifeguards from the beach at Santa Monica, California, painted with full body paint and made up to look like Apaches. Director Hugo Fregonese and producer Val Lewton wanted the Apaches to do a lot of leaping from high windows, off of roofs, etc., and the film's budget precluded hiring stuntmen to play the Apaches. They decided to hire the lifeguards because of their athleticism and, more importantly, the fact that they didn't have to get stuntmen's pay. See more »
The Apache are shown beating the drums with their hands, whereas they and all Native Americans used sticks or drum beaters. See more »
Sam Leeds and I have fought together - we saw death ride up to us. I feel I know this man - there's good in him - the kind of good that will help the town you love so much, Joe Madden.
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A Western to Stand Beside Lewton's Horror Classics
Like Lewton's horror films, one doesn't notice the low budget (the lowest ever for a color film at that time, per Lewton) because of the excellent character development and the plot tensions. And like his horror films, it's what you CAN'T see that's so terrifying. The final scene is in an adobe church with high, open windows. Outside one can hear the Apache drums and chants, the light from the burning town flickers on the walls, and one is forced to imagine the scene outside, as do the small band of settlers claustrophobically huddled inside. Indians appear at the windows from time to time like fun-house pop-ups. It's a nightmare situation mined for all its possibilities. Other scenes have a similar effect. A man without a gun comes on a just-massacred traveling party; suddenly, danger seems to exist all around him. Later, the hero is traveling with a party of armed men; suddenly he finds himself alone on foot on a flat plain with nowhere to take cover and a band of Apaches riding toward him at full gallop. And the opening scene: a gunfight occurs off-screen, shattering the peaceful scene of a kitten being served milk (an example of what Lewton called a "bus" scene after the sudden appearance of the bus in THE CAT PEOPLE). Though these situations may not be unique to this film, they are obviously the sort that appealed to Lewton, and are handled very effectively. But the core of the film is the characters: the protagonist, a card sharp who plays the angles (his nickname is "Slick") and is fast with a gun, a wise-ass who isn't all bad; the virtuous sheriff who isn't all good; the preacher, an old man with a lot of gumption, not a bad judge of character, but a reactionary Irish Catholic priest with a strong racial prejudice. Other typically interesting Lewton characters are the madam who's happy enough to leave town if someone will buy her out at a good price, the cavalry officer who understands the Indians, and particularly the stoic Indian scout, faithful to the settlers to the end. The very fact that these characters don't move to extremes in extreme situations, that they have both good and less positive traits, is what gives this film its grab. It's a film that doesn't force the viewer to follow its path, and doesn't automatically go to the dramatic limit suggested by the situation... That's why Lewton's films are great!
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