Western about racial intolerance focuses around Kiowa claim that the Zachary daughter is one of their own, stolen in a raid. The dispute results in other whites turning their backs on the Zacharys when the truth is revealed by Mother. Cash, the hotheaded brother, reacts violently upon learning his "sister" is a "red-hide Indian." He leaves the family but returns to help them fight off an Indian raid. Written by
This classic film from one of the greatest directors of the 20th century boasts an incredible cast: Audrey Hepburn, Lillian Gish (silent films), Burt Lancaster, Audie Murphy (war hero), a young Doug McClure, all of whom show classic acting at its finest. Go beneath the dialogue and watch the body movements, facial expressions and withheld, unspoken emotion of these superb actors (esp Gish and Lancaster). Check out the incredible performance of the wraith-like, howling itinerant evangelist (Joseph Wiseman) who seems to know the "secret". The score by Dmitri Tiomkin is terrific, with a minimum of Hollywood-style Native American drumming (and flute playing. Indeed, the music played by the Kiowas during the "break" was fascinating. Although the story is set in 1800s Texas panhandle, the theme is universal and hard-hitting: racism, and a family divided by their differing views. I found the portrayal of the Kiowa culture to be accurate, esp the use of costumes and rituals. Remember, this film was made in 1960, a time when racial intolerance was rarely put on film, and the fair presentation of Native Americans was almost non-existent. Indeed, this is why Huston wanted this project. Remarkably, this film is NOT pro-Indian or pro-settler, rather it's an honest depiction of a clash of cultures. My only disappointment, a minor one, was that the film ended rather abruptly for my taste, almost as if they ran out of film. But then again, I'm not a director! I found interesting background on the making of this film at dvdverdict.com
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