A wagon train heads for Denver with a cargo of whisky for the miners. Chaos ensues as the Temperance League, the US cavalry, the miners and the local Indians all try to take control of the ... See full summary »
During the Rif War in Morocco, the French Foreign Legion's outpost of Tarfa is threatened by Khalif Hussein's tribes but Sergeant Mike Kincaid devises a plan of survival until the arrival of French reinforcements.
Trapper Joe is on his way to the town with all of his gain of hides of the last winter. However a group of Indians stops him and takes all of his hides, leaving him the escaped slave Joseph instead. But Joe has no use for Joseph and is determined to get his property back and follows them. Before he can do anything, the Indians are raided themselves by a group of scalphunters under the greedy Howie. Not only the hides, but also Joseph falls into their hands. Now Joe follows them alone and tries to trick the numerical superior group out of his hides. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
All of the weapons shown came into use after the Civil War. See more »
Go get yourself some clothes on! I don't want these men gettin' any horny notions!
Stop talkin'like a Baptist preacher. If I had half the boots been stuck under my bed, I bet I could outfit the United States Cavalry!
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The Scalphunters was the first of two films Sydney Pollack directed with Burt Lancaster. In fact according to a recent biography of Lancaster, Burt was literally trying Pollack out on this western before giving him an opportunity to direct the very expensive Castle Keep for him the following year. Personally I think The Scalphunters is a far better film.
It's a rollicking good mixture of comedy with some very serious themes involved. It's also the last time Lancaster did any really athletic roles as he was 55 when making The Scalphunters. We all bow to old age at some point.
Sydney Pollack actually started his association with Burt Lancaster on the set of The Young Savages where he was an acting coach to some of the street kids who were playing gang members. It was his first introduction into motion pictures, he had previously directed and acted in a number of television productions.
Burt is fur trapper Joe Bass who gets an offer from the Kiowa Indians he can't refuse. They'll relieve him of his year's trappings in beaver pelts and he'll get an educated house slave in Ossie Davis. Davis seems born to be a slave, he escapes it from the south, then he's captured by the Comanches who then trade him to the Kiowas and then he's forced on Lancaster.
Lancaster is planning to get his pelts back, but a murderous gang of Scalphunters beat him to it and massacre almost the whole band and take Lancaster's furs along with horses and scalps that bring a good bounty. Burt's Joe Bass is not exactly a boy scout, but this crowd truly nauseates him.
The Scalphunters are headed by Telly Savalas and his cigar smoking refugee from a bordello of a woman, Shelley Winters. Winters has the best performance in the film, this is her third film with Lancaster with whom she had a self documented fling back in the day. Later on Davis gets captured by The Scalphunters and he has to use his wits to survive among them. But they're going to Mexico where slavery has been abolished.
The laughs are mixed in with some serious racial issues all around. Lancaster can't quite accept Davis as an equal, Davis is perfectly willing to go along with The Scalphunters and their genocidal war on the Indians if he'll obtain his freedom through them. And Savalas and his crowd are as mean a bunch as you'll ever see in a film, yet some of the funniest bits in the film involve Winters and Savalas.
The Scalphunters is a really funny western that if you think about it teaches some good lessons we could all use.
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