Lieutenant McAllister is ordered to transport several ammunition wagons to another fort through Apache territory with only a small troop of rookie soldiers to guard them. Along for the ride... See full summary »
Lieutenant McAllister is ordered to transport several ammunition wagons to another fort through Apache territory with only a small troop of rookie soldiers to guard them. Along for the ride is ex-scout Jess Remsberg who is trying to track down Ellen Grange, who, having recently been freed from Apache captivity, has mysteriously run off again to rejoin them. Remsberg frees Ellen again and leaves her with the embattled soldiers as he rides off to the fort, not only for help, but to find the man who killed and scalped his Indian wife. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As James Garner and others descend a rock wall via ropes under a full moon, the men each cast two shadows. See more »
Lt. Scotty McAllister:
You were a pretty good sergeant once, Toller, but now you're just another money grubbing civilian.
You used to be a pretty good sergeant yourself, McAllister, but now you're just a... rank officer.
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The United Artists logo is sliced off the screen with a bloody knife, slicing an "X" across the screen, revealing the opening scene. At the end, the same knife slices the live picture away, as (sort of) a fade out. See more »
Enjoyable enough western that covers the weak subtext with a good cast
Out in the desert Jess Remsberg comes across Ellen Grange trying to get back to her Apache husband. He `rescues' her and returns her to her husband Willard, who is too ashamed of her to accept her back. While in town, Jess gets roped in as a scout to help Lt McAllister drive across the desert with a troupe of rookie troops to reach Fort Conchos. Horse trader Toller is also dragged along to finish breaking the horses he sold to the fort. Each has a different reason for going to Conchos - Jess is looking for revenge on the man who killed his Indian wife, Grange for trade etc. However when Chata's men attack the troop find themselves fighting for survival.
As with many viewers I imagine, I was drawn to this film by the strong list of names in the cast. From the early scenes it is clear that this film takes a sympathetic view of the Native Americans and doesn't allow them to be portrayed as barbarians and such. However after a few characters are set up who say nice things about the Indians, the film then falls into standard fare where Chata's men are murderers, torturers and without any real character to speak of within the script. Aside from the rather apologetic muddle it gets itself into, the basic plot is OK and ends up robbing most of the characters of nay of the decency that they might have had. The focus is a series of gun battles between McAllister's men and Chata, leading to the inevitable showdown and gradual picking off of each other's men. It isn't great but it does the job in a rather gaudy fashion even if it's `substance' is damaged by the poor subtext which can't decide it if wants to be PC or just brutal and with plenty of shoot outs.
Other reviewers have commented on the film's brutality but mostly that is implied. Some death scenes are brutal in your imagination but generally it isn't anything too different from what you'll else anywhere else. The direction is also pretty workmanlike and has few (if any) touches that are really clever or unique; however much worse is the score - it's very much of the sixties music and it doesn't fit the film. What does really work is the cast. Garner is good value and plays it pretty straight. His revenge plot and his anger is not very well delivered though and he gets an easy out. Poitier's casting is a little ironic as he is the only one who doesn't seem to have any rage towards other races and has no anger directed towards him for his race. He is cool and tough but has little meat on his bones. Andersson is a little wishy-washy and is only given plenty to do in the early scenes where she defends her captors. Weaver is good and unsympathetic and Travers is a weird bit of casting. Never the most charismatic of leading men, here he is a strange mix of a character and is accent is just strange and distracting - he can do `broad and heroic' though and that is all that is really asked of him.
Overall this is a workmanlike western that actually would have been more enjoyable if it had done it's apologetic subtext with more conviction. It doesn't though and actually ends up just muddling it for the first half and then falling back into more familiar territory of B-movie westerns. However it is still noisy enough to be fun and the presence of a number of famous faces help to make it feel better than it actually is.
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