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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
John Huston saw the film as an opportunity to make a serious comment on race relations, but the company thought anything along those lines should take a back seat to making it a commercial success as action/adventure. Burt Lancaster's biographer Gary Fishgall quotes two of Huston's biographers who assert that Huston did not quit because he needed his $300,000 salary to restore his Irish manor house and saw the location shoot as an opportunity to indulge his passion for pre-Columbian art. See more »
In the scene where the piano is delivered, Lancaster's hair style changes again and again, from trimmed to long, from wind swept to coiffured. See more »
[yelling at a cow eating grass growing on the Zachary family's roof]
Shoo now! Shoo! Ain't you got no better manners than to eat at the top of a house?
See more »
Which is a shame because after an admittedly slow laborious first third, the film kicks on from the moment the Kiowa Indian's turn up asking for the return of their kin. The film is gorgeous to look at (Franz Planer shooting out of Durango, Mexico) and benefits from some sterling performances from those involved. Big bad Burt Lancaster broods as the big brother, and it was wonderful to see Audrey Hepburn playing a down to earth character, no glam and glitter here; in fact it was kind of special watching her with rifle in hands firing away. The ending took me a little by surprise (but in a good way), and I was fully satisfied that I had just watched an involving and entertaining genre piece. If Huston did indeed consider this one of his worst films then I look forward to catching many more of his misfires. 7/10
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