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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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was only in his third film, "Apache," that Aldrich's assured grasp
of genre and liberal sensibilities came to the fore in a sympathetic
but never maudlin portrait of an Indian alienated from both white
America and his own kind...
Based upon the Novel "Bronco Apache" by Paul I. Wellman, the film relates the story of the last Apache warrior Massai following Geronimo's surrender...
Declined to live on Government reservations, a real-brave Massai became a legend for waging a one-man war against the encroaching U.S. Army in the 1880s...
Lancaster stars as the menacing, stormy, inflamed warrior whose spirit is as high as the white snowy peak of his mountain... Massai came back from far away weary from a journey that no warrior had ever made before... He seems like a dying wolf biting at its own wounds... For him there is no place in his life for love... Love is for men who can walk without looking behind... For men who can live summer and winter in the same place... Every man, every Indian is his enemy...
Jean Peters looked radiant as the blue-eyes Nalinle who really knows there had never been a chief like Massai...
John McIntire combed the whole country searching for Massai... For him it takes two to call off a war... Massai must be in those mountains somewhere...
For Bronson, "Apache" marked the first of his numerous excursions into Indian territory...
Aldrich tried to offer an inspiring message, and his film was exciting filled with colorful action scenes, and a surprising ending...
Apache was the third feature Robert Aldrich directed. Before he worked as
an assistant director to Jean Renoir, William Wellman, Lewis Milestone and
even Charlie Chaplin and also made several episodes for TV films. He was
invited to direct Apache by its co-producer and main star Burt Lancaster.
The Apache's particularity is that it doesn't enter the classic Western scheme of almost obligatory showing of the Indians as bad guys, thou the most illustrious example of this probably belong to John Ford's 1964 Cheyenne Autumn with which the legendary director bid a farewell to the genre. Also Apache's distinctiveness resides in the treatment that is given to the central theme of the Western genre, which is revenge.
Here the Indian rebellious warrior Massai, wonderfully played by Burt Lancaster is obsessively seeking revenge facing the enemy not only in a form of one person or a small group of people in accordance with traditional Western vengeance system, but in a form an entire society either Indian or White, a society that he considers his enemy and against which he courageously fights alone not looking for help from anyone till he meets an equally strong character Nalinle (Jean Peters), a woman who simply accepts him as he is ready to share all the difficulties of Massai's life and even to sacrifice her own life for the man she loves. From this point on as his affection for Nalinle increases, his desire to fight everything and everyone proportionally decreases resulting in his settling down looking for more peaceful existence, which is hardly possible due to the burden of his past deeds which weighs over him personified in a collective figure of the American authorities who unceasingly continue to hunt him down.
A weak, but also in many ways remarkable Western featuring convincing performances from Burt Lancaster and Jean Peters in a tale of self-sacrificing love and courageous but ultimately pointless fight for imaginary cause. 7/10
Very good classic western that has a Holywood formula but with more than the usual edge.Showcasing the Native American side here during the late 19th century.Great chemistry between the lead actors.The production was nothing spectacular but was very good enough over all due mainly to the script and performance of Lancaster and Peters.Good action mixed with a cute and convincing love story.Only for liberal minded people who love Westerns and big fans of the lead actors......
There may be some criticism as to Lancaster and Peters with blue eyes and classic American features portraying Indians, but this was a box office hit in its day and is still worth watching today. This was the first movie that allowed audiences to see the world through the eyes of an Apache and that merits consideration when you select to see this film. It opened the road for other movies focused through the Indian's point of view, which are still being made today (and that includes Gibson's Apocalipto). Both Lancaster and his beautiful squaw, Jean Peters, give excellent performances, despite their blue eyes; which is another reason to watch this flick. It is very well done and the Indians come out as dignified people thanks to good acting. These two actors are definitely pros. They actually manage to act natural with difficult, though smart, dialog that was written to enhance the way Apaches talked at the end of the 19th Century. The screenplay is very interesting and based on the acclaimed novel "Bronco Apache". Look for Charles Bronson (billed as Bruchinsky) playing Peters' beau. Lots of action, too. Lancaster broke his leg when the film started shooting in October '53, but resumed shooting the following month. Peters was liked by cast and crew, but, like some members of the cast, developed an animosity toward the difficult Lancaster during the final days of shooting; which makes her performance the more outstanding because she had to play a squaw that is totally devoted to his character, Massai. The romantic part is quite subdued, but it had to do with the way it was written, and nothing more; which is fine, for Apache warriors had little time to devote to love. The film's ending was fine. But you be the judge of that.
The movie tells the story of a rebellious apache who refuses to
with his chief Geronimo,and wages a one-man war against the U.S.
Following movies like "Broken Arrow (1950)" this film takes the side of the Indian.Lancaster is again at his most athletic in the leading role,but he makes a rather unlikely Indian.The same could be said of Jean Peters,who nevertheless looks ravishing as Lancaster's squaw.It's anyway an entertaining movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Burt Lancaster essays the second of his American Indian roles in
Apache, the first being in Jim Thorpe - All American. As Jim Thorpe
Lancaster plays a man who is living in the world the white man made for
him. As Masai, the last Apache warrior, Lancaster is going to live on
In fact the real Masai was killed, but Hollywood wanted a happy ending. Ten years later Lancaster would have had Masai killed, but he didn't have the clout yet to override the studio.
In fact Burt's having trouble all around in this. He's not getting along with any of his fellow Indians either. Not getting along with Charles Bronson. But Bronson is viewed rightly so as the Pierre Laval of the Apaches. That's understandable.
But I think the most interesting scene is his meeting with Cherokee Morris Ankrum. Morris's wife acts more like a white house wife than a subservient squaw. That's something Lancaster is having trouble digesting. The Indians weren't real big on women's liberation.
But Jean Peters is your more traditional Indian female. She's going with her man no matter what. And Burt actually does humanize under her influence somewhat.
It may be the Apache has been beaten, but they won't be broken and that's the message that Lancaster wants to convey to his people.
In the great tradition of Broken Arrow and Fort Apache.
Apart from Burt Lancaster's macho warrior performance, this movie is also saved by Robert Aldrich's direction. It's not brilliant in any sense, but pure enough to tell a story with some unique moments that give it his trade mark. Also the subject matter of an Indian being a hero was not common in the 1950s. It was a brave attempt to create empathy for the Indian Warrior, but it was not difficult because Burt Lancaster played it perfectly in a heroic campy style. I know, white folks playing Indigenous roles can sometimes put you off, but because of the time period it was made in, I decided to let it go and enjoy this Western romp because Lancaster is my all time favorite actors, and I was always interested in Aldrich as an accomplish director who had his own style that suited this film to perfection.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Following Geronimo's surrender, Massai is the last Apache warrior who
refuses to bow down to the white man. Escaping from a prison train, he
returns to his homeland in New Mexico, attacks the local fort and
escapes into the hills with Nalinle, the squaw who loves him. But
tribeless, homeless and pursued, how long can he survive ?
This is one of those rare fifties westerns which tries, within the traditions of the genre, to portray American Indian culture with accuracy and sympathy (see also Sam Fuller's Run Of The Arrow), and was the first of three great westerns made by Aldrich, Lancaster and producer Harold Hecht (the others being Vera Cruz and Ulzana's Raid). It has three fine performances; blue-eyed Lancaster is physically dazzling as the uncompromising Massai, who is noble, cruel, tireless in his quest for freedom, and tortured by the defeat of his people. Peters, little-known now but a major star in her day (and Mrs Howard Hughes), is terrific as the woman who understands Massai's conflict and loves him despite it. And McIntire (the sheriff in Psycho) is solid as the weary, hard-bitten tracker who has devoted his life to both understanding and defeating Apaches. Watch too for Bronson in a small role, billed here under his real name, Charles Buchinsky (he adopted his more famous moniker from 1955 onwards). Ernest Laszlo's photography of the California and Arizona scenery is fabulous, and Aldrich's trademark themes - machismo, independence and injustice - are all present and correct. This was his third movie and his first cowboy flick, and thematically is one of the most important westerns ever made.
This is an exciting and masterful movie by the great Robert Aldrich ,
at his first and the best Western . Many years later bloody fighting
with the settlers in the American frontier and a bitter battle between
the Apaches and the US cavalry in the struggle for the West , the chief
Apache Gerónimo is obliged to undertake a humiliating defeat . But his
warrior more radical and violent named Maasai (Burt Lancaster),
renounces to accept rendition . Maasai refuses to surrender and takes
on the relentless American cavalry (John McIntire , Charles Bronson) ,
attempting to get a step ahead of the perfectly trained troopers ,all
of them have vowed to kill him . Meanwhile , he falls in love for a
gorgeous Apache woman (Jean Peters) . And as his crusade will
precipitate toward an epic final battle . Maasai to be realized that he
must persevere , not only for his life , but also by the pride of all
his Apache race . 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.
This thoughtful picture is an excellent adaptation based on the novel by Paul J. Wellman titled ¨Bronco Apache¨ . This film is , along with "Devil'S Doorway" and " Broken Arrow", one of the few titles of great quality shot in the 1950s to praise the figure of the Red Skins against White Men . Interestingly , the screenwriter James R Webb and the director Robert Aldrich found the character Maasai of the original novel very aggressive , so they decided to join an Apache woman well performed by the wonderful Jean Peters who married Howard Hughes . Lancaster makes an unforgettable and top-notch interpretation as a two-fisted warrior named Maasai , transmitting all the fierceness , nobility and ubiquity of his particularly stubborn role as well as unfriendly . A top-drawer western , the third feature film of the great Aldrich , here directing a Western masterpiece and to confirm with another great movie : "Vera Cruz" . "Apache" is a thrilling and vibrant story to deal with the figure of a rebel Indian ; the own Aldrich did in 1972 another splendid film with this theme : "Ulzana's raid" also with Lancaster as starring . The good of the screenplay is presented to the American Indian with dignity , honour and understanding . This is an intelligent , top-of-the-range piece for its time that had the original tragic final re-shot, against Aldrich's wishes , to make it more happy . He later concluded that "if you shoot two endings, they will always use the other one, never yours".
In ¨Apache¨ Robert Aldrich gave a tense and brilliant direction , though was shot in 30 days . Aldrich began writing and directing for TV series in the early 1950s, and directed his first feature in 1953 (Big Leaguer ,1953). Soon thereafter he established his own production company and produced most of his own films, collaborating in the writing of many of them . Directed in a considerable plethora of genres but almost all of his films contained a subversive undertone . He was an expert on warlike (Dirty Dozen , The Angry Hills , Attack , Ten seconds to hell) and Western (The Frisko kid , Ulzana's raid, Apache , Veracruz , The last sunset) . ¨Apache¨ is a masterful film in all aspects , is among the best westerns of the cinema . Rating : Above average , it's a must see and a standout in its genre ; thus, this film was a commercial success .
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