Matt Fletcher, a Mexican-American buffalo hunter is constantly harassed and humiliated by bandit general Chuy Medina. When the bandit steals his horse - the appaloosa of the title - he sets out to even scores; at the climax, single-handedly, he takes on the whole gang. Written by
According to Bob Thomas' 1973 biography "Marlon: Portrait of the Artist as a Rebel", producer Alan Miller, appalled at his star's lack of interest in the film and his lackluster performance, pinned a bit of doggerel about Marlon Brando, whose character is called "Mateo" by his Mexican friend in the film: "Mateo, his heart / It bleeds for the mass, / But the people he works with / He kicks in the ass." See more »
The Appaloosa which portrays the title character was actually a registered Appaloosa stallion named Cojo Rojo. He was born in 1960 and just prior to being used for the film he was racing on the California tracks. He sired several foals, including several race champions. During filming a few other similarly marked horses were used as stunt horses, but the majority of work was done by Cojo Rojo. See more »
[enters confessional booth]
I'm having a little trouble getting started, Father.
You are in the House of God now, my son. Speak from your heart.
Well, I've done a lot of killin'. I've killed a lot of men and sinned a lot of women. But the men I killed needed killin' and the women wanted sinnin', and well, I never was one much to argue.
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"The Appaloosa" is a superior low-key western with a great performance by Marlon Brando and very good ones by John Saxon and Anjanette Comer. Brando plays a white man raised by Mexicans who returns from the Civil War tired of killing and ready to build a ranch around one Appaloosa stallion. Brando has the misfortune of becoming a tool for Comer to escape the clutches of Saxon. Saxon retaliates by stealing Brando's stallion, and Brando follows Saxon into Mexico to reclaim it. Director Sidney J. Furie ("The Ipcress File," "Iron Eagle") extensively uses extreme close-ups of faces, in the same manner as Sergio Leone, but not for the same purpose. Furie uses these close-ups to establish intimacy between the characters and the audience. This works beautifully in "The Appaloosa," particularly so since the story is so unremarkable and low-key and Brando's character is by no means a superman. Most of the violence is of the "G" rated variety, with the notable exception of a hand-wrestling contest played with the addition of scorpions.
While the ending of "The Appaloosa" is as abrupt and unremarkable as everything that precedes, intimate moments in the movie linger long after. As examples:
o Brando's confessional o The little girl telling Brando he smells like a goat o The goat herder telling Brando about Saxon's gunmen killing his pet goat o Comer telling Brando her fate if he doesn't help her escape Saxon o The hand-wrestling contest
There are many more unremarkable but somehow memorable moments in the sublime "Appaloosa." It is too insignificant to be great, but it most certainly very good. I give "The Appaloosa" an "8".
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