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Report reaches the US cavalry that the Apache leader Ulzana has left his reservation with a band of followers. A compassionate young officer, Lieutenant DeBuin, is given a small company to find him and bring him back; accompanying the troop is McIntosh, an experienced scout, and Ke-Ni-Tay, an Apache guide. Ulzana massacres, rapes and loots across the countryside; and as DeBuin encounters the remains of his victims, he is compelled to learn from McIntosh and to confront his own naiveté and hidden prejudice. Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
Filmed for $1.2 million in only 7 weeks, a good 3 or 4 weeks less than most of Robert Aldrich's movies. See more »
When the platoon sets out from the fort, Macintosh's Indian girlfriend is watching them depart, with her face half-hidden by the shawl she is holding tightly under her nose. The next shot cuts straight to a close up of her face, but her hands are not in view and more of her face is hidden by the shawl. See more »
Maybe you don't want to think of the white man being savage like the Apache?
Apache renegade Ulzana goes on a murder raid, hot on his trail is a posse of cavalrymen. Led by the young and inexperienced Lt. Garnett DeBuin, the cavalrymen in order to survive and defeat Ulzana, must rely on the help of tough old scout McIntosh and his trusty Indian friend, Ke-Ni-Tay.
Directed masterfully by Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen & The Longest Yard), Ulzana's Raid is just shy of being an uncompromising masterpiece. There is no pandering to political correctness here, this is showing the bitter hostility of the Indian war, torture and murderous inclination is the order of the day. The allegories to Vietnam are hard to ignore as our band of men are struggling out in the wilderness against Ulzana's hostile raiders, the sprawling mountainous landscape another tool to the already handily equipped Apache.
What lifts Ulzana's Raid high above many of its contemporaries is its on the money dialogue. A wonderfully complex script from Alan Sharp manages to make all the characters intriguing and deserving of further delving. The Apache are savage, and Aldrich doesn't flinch from showing this, but they are afforded respect, and crucially, understanding. Ulzana's Raid could quite easily have been a one sided blood letting exercise in Western folklore, but it isn't. The motives and attitudes of the white man party is there for all to scrutinise, with much attention to detail given as the many conversations bring rich and rewarding results to the discerning viewer. From the off it's evident that McIntosh & DeBuin have vastly different views of Ulzana's actions, but as the film moves forward; all manner of questions leap out, be it Christian values, racial hatred or merely imperialistic trust; all parties involved are hurtling towards the final reckoning.
Burt Lancaster is perfect as McIntosh, grizzled and carrying a frame made for such a rigorous terrain. Playing DeBuin is Bruce Davison, boyish charm fused expertly with unwanted bravado, while stealing the film is Jorge Luke as Ke-Ni-Tay. A performance of great depth that holds and binds the picture brilliantly. Sadly this film has been a victim of much interference over the years, (studio and Lancaster himself to blame), so much so there is thought to be about 6 cuts of the film out there in the home entertainment world. Thankfully we are now able to get a cut of the film that is almost complete, but still there remains to this day no definitive full cut of the film. German (the version I own) and Australian releases proclaim to have it uncut, but that's not accurate because there is still some three minutes missing from the very first cut of it: including a quite crucial sequence involving Sergeant and Trooper Miller. Still, it has to be said that even with 3 minutes chopped out of it, Ulzana's Raid is still a grim and brilliant piece of work. Showing the savagery from both sides of the fence, Aldrich and his team refuse to cop out and pander to formula. 9/10
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