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Following the surrender of Geronimo, Massai, the last Apache warrior is captured and scheduled for transportation to a Florida reservation. Instead, he manages to escape and heads for his homeland to win back his girl and settle down to grow crops. His pursuers have other ideas though. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There really was a renegade Apache warrior called Massai, who was a bloodthirsty killer renowned for stealing, raping and murdering. He did indeed escape from a prison train bound for Florida and made his way back to his homeland. It is, however, doubtful that he was six feet tall and had blue eyes like Burt Lancaster. See more »
Opening credits: This is the story of Massai, the last Apache warrior. It has been told and re-told until it has become one of the great legends of the Southwest. It began in 1886 with Geronimo's surrender. See more »
If you can suspend disbelief that Burt Lancaster and Jean Peters are Apaches, then this isn't a bad western. If you can't, well then there's gonna be a lot of low ratings posted here.
In 1886, Geronimo and his braves surrender to the U.S. Calvary in New Mexico and are shipped off to Ft. Marion, Florida. All except one, an Apache named Massai (Burt Lancaster) who begins a one man war against the whites.
Massai escapes from the train that is shipping the Apaches back east and makes his way back to New Mexico. From there, he attacks wagons, soldiers, bridges etc., making life hard for the authorities. He kidnaps Nalinle (Jean Peters) and takes her up to the hills with him while Indian scouts John McIntire and Charles Bronson hunt them down.
Massai finds an isolated spot in the high country and starts to plant a small corn field from seed he got from a Cherokee farmer (Morris Ankrum). He also gets Peters pregnant with child.
The ending scene in Massai's little cornfield is pure Hollywood. The action scenes are tight as we see Lancaster jumping from rock to rock as he picks off at least 10 of the Indian scouts that have him surrounded. But then as Massai is wounded and runs into McIntire in the cornfield, disbelief occurs and the conclusion seems tacked on in order to make a happy ending out of it. You'll have to see it for yourself.
Still, it's entertaining enough as it is. It's based on a true incident and Lancaster at least brings some dignity to his role as the noble warrior turned farmer who wants to be left in peace. It could've turned out a lot worse.
I give it a 6 out of 10 for his performance alone.
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