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21 reviews in total 
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Chuka (1967)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Naval gazing, cheap-looking western with an odd cast, 2 February 2015
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Chuka is a strangely written film with some strange characters, all of whom need to have some tedious expository background scene whilst the audience twiddles its thumbs waiting for the Indians to attack (that they win is revealed in the opening scene so there's no suspense here).

Writer Richard Jassup creates some bizarre people who are unlikely to have existed in real life. His army fort is populated by a collection of what is described as the 'scum of the Earth'. As if a USA army fort in Indian territory would ever be (or ever could be) populated with 'disgraced' people. The officer in charge is a disgraced (and, it is implied, castrated) former British officer who, for reasons understandably unexplained, is now a colonel in the USA army. Not only that, but his German sergeant who served with him in the British army in the Sudan (?!) is also with him at the fort. Another character explains that he hates battles because horses get killed (!). With such bizarre creations as these, there is little one can do really but sit it out for the full 105m whilst these people all reveal something 'significant' about their backgrounds and hope that the end action justifies the wait (even know you know it won't).

The real star of the film is not Rod Taylor but the most unconvincing fort set that I have ever seen (and I must have watched over 400 westerns including all 13 of AC Lyles' films). It is so small you only ever get to see one small part of the wall. The inhabitants must number about 30 at most - only about 20 can fit in the non-existent 'parade ground' - and there is room in the stable for about 10 horses. Apart from Taylor, none of the main actors seem to have left this set for the duration. Consequently, the film has a cramped, claustrophobic, artificial look throughout and I was half expecting the source material to be a stage play. The constricted set causes several Indian arrows to defy the laws of physics and gravity - one army officer gets one in the back when his back was up against a wooden wall ! Other highlights include a long fight between Taylor and Ernest Borgnine which ends, following kidney punches and the banging of Taylor's head against a wooden post, with the two simply laughing and seemingly unharmed. Plus a somewhat incomprehensible ending that tries to strain for significance (would a grave really not be dug-up due to 'sacrilege' if a relative was after the body?).

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Big budget liberal message movie is a mess, 28 May 2014
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Cheyenne Autumn was intended as the big-budget western release of 1964, the follow-up to How the West Was Won with several of the same cast members and one of that film's directors. For a movie made in 1963, the theme is a bold one about the White man's ill-treatment of the Cheyenne (actually the North Cheyenne tribe) and their 1878 journey back north to their homeland.

Unfortunately, the film is a mess and for a movie made by a top 'A' director, it is surprisingly incompetently directed. Some comments:

- the Dodge City sequence. I would have liked to see this expanded to a feature length film and released separately. It is very funny. However, it doesn't belong in this film. What was Ford smoking when he put this in?

- Karl Malden's prototype Nazi officer who has "Orders, orders zat must be OBEYED". "I HAF ORDERS". Malden seems to think he is auditioning for John Cleese's role in The Germans episode of Fawlty Towers. Couldn't someone keep him under control? And what about that huge pipe he pulls out of his coat at one point and then exits stage left after blowing out the sergeant's offered match? That made me laugh. A touch worthy of Peter Sellers. One can see the point being made but the execution is ridiculous. It was also amusing to see the German name of Edward G Robinson's character being downplayed presumably because the writers had forgotten that one of the major 'good guys' was also of German ancestry when they created the Nazi character. (interesting historical footnote - the real Carl Schurz spoke with a thick German accent whereas the real Cpt Wessels was born in New York and likely didn't - he certainly was never a Prussian officer)

- in the first encounter between the cavalry and the Indians, Richard Widmark is summarily court martialled and put under arrest for reasons not apparent to this viewer (was something cut out?). Later Widmark goes up to a soldier and asks where the major is only for the soldier to point to a body which is virtually lying at Widmark's feet being attended to by a physician. This is like something out of The Naked Gun. I had to rewind here to check I hadn't missed anything as it looked so stupid.

- the second skirmish with the Indians is appallingly choreographed and edited. After establishing that we are in some kind of shrub/semi-desert area, when Pat Wayne leads a cavalry charge, the cavalry are shown charging over some flat sandy area which is obviously a completely different location. Then, the Indians set fire to a few fake-looking shrubs and about five seconds later, the cavalry's wagons and cannon are enveloped in flames despite being at least several hundred yards away. Richard Widmark and the rest of his command appear to be doing nothing whilst this happens although Wayne's men seem to be close enough for Widmark to be shouting at them. A quick cut and Widmark is personally helping save the cannon - what has happened to the hundred odd men in his command. Why aren't they helping? Who knows.

- Ricardo Montalban and Gilbert Roland's mullets. Very silly and must have given the set hairdresser lots of chuckles. Didn't anyone look at any pictures of the real Dull Knife and Little Wolf? Still, at least even they don't look as ridiculous as Sal Mineo.

- Surely someone must have realised that it sounded stupid to constantly refer to a major character as "Spanish Woman" rather than give her a proper name? There is no excuse for this as it's not even a real historical name.

- What did make me laugh was that most of the time it looked as if Little Wolf and Dull Knife's orders to the tribe were having to be translated for them by the elderly unnamed Cheyenne who was standing next to them in many scenes and was a real Indian (a senior Navajo I'm guessing). Almost every time they said something in Cheyenne, this guy would then turn round and repeat it to the other Indians. This again looked ridiculous

- Matters being brought to what seemed a premature conclusion by Edward G Robinson standing infront of an appallingly unconvincing piece of back-projection, not even pointed in the right direction, and mouthing a few platitudes. Had the money run out at this point? (the Robinson scene is completely fictitious by the way).

In short, worthy in intent but incompetent in execution and in places mind-numbingly bad for an expensive film made by a talented director.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Sub-par western with a miscast leading man and plenty of stock footage, 7 May 2014
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A lot of 1960s B westerns turned out to be remakes of 1950s B films - especially those starring Audie Murphy - and this is no exception. Its a remake of Showdown in Abilene starring Jock Mahoney. This is so close to the original that the original writer of Showdown, Berne Giler, gets a 'screenplay' credit although I suspect that means Giler's original script was handed to the other credited writer, John Black, who made a few nominal changes to update it for the budget and to try and disguise that this was a remake by changing the character names.

Looking suspiciously as if it was intended originally as a Murphy vehicle, this humdrum affair features singer Bobby Darin as a gunfighter who can't put on a gun again after accidentally killing his best friend but naturally is forced to do so at the end. Darin struggles in the acting stakes - someone must have told him to wear black gloves as a symbol of being psychologically disturbed (maybe he saw Kirk Douglas in The Last Sunset - of which more later) although no-one comments on this even when he wears them indoors - and bites his lips a lot. He's also too slight to be a feared gunman and looks faintly ridiculous in nicely pressed tight beige trousers.

The background plot is a range war between cattlemen and sodbusters. However, being that this is a cheap film, all of the shots of cattle herds and civil war fighting are taken from other films shot on different film stock and it shows. This being a Universal release the production has been allowed to raid the Universal library and che civil war shots are from Shenandoah and many, if not all of the shots of cattle herds are from aforementioned The Last Sunset including shots of a cattle herd crossing a river into a town and being put into a cattle corral. So, instead of seeing any cattle everything is largely confined to the standing Universal western town set and a few indoor sets.

The film is lamentable short on much action until the end. Further Darin's character came across to me as a complete cad. Darin's chopped off Leslie Neilson's arm, killed his brother and then tomcatted his fiancée(whom Darin also humiliates by being blatantly unfaithful too by screwing another woman virtually infront of her and then dumping this other gal when the ex-financee changes her mind). Neilsen should have shot Darin dead.

I thought Don Galloway came off best as the laid back deputy quite happy to serve any sheriff, no matter how corrupt.

Waco (1966)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Awful AC Lyles production, 31 March 2014
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Waco is a typically terrible AC Lyles production full of ageing alcoholic actors struggling to read their lines, incompetent choreography where actors hold their hats as they fall over whilst the main plot (recycled the following year in Arizona Bushwackers) consists of a sheriff failing to arrest those who keep trying to kill him.

The budget must have been especially low since this one features no outdoor location shots at all (those that exist are obvious bits of stock footage) but does include a pathetically unconvincing sagebrush backcloth which doubles as both a cemetery and a ranch corral.

Laugh as director RG Springsteen repeats the same footage every time we see a raucous outside the saloon, John Agar tells Ben Cooper that his girlfriend will get over being raped "in a few days", Wendell Corey slurs his lines and is so visibly drunk that even Springsteen has to cut away before the man starts to topple over after being shot and a film whose morality is such that a man of God has to be killed for no good reason than that the hero wants to cop off with his wife without offending the Hays Code.

This was De Forest Kelley's last film before being snapped up for Star Trek and immortality as Dr McCoy. Billed 12th, but with a much bigger part than several of those listed above him (Brian Donlevy gets third place for a five minute cameo), he's actually pretty good as the saloon 'bouncer' who keeps smirking behind Howard Keel's back. Kelley seemed to have done nothing but westerns in the 5-6 years before Star Trek and made a pretty good B western villain. In these movies he stood out possibly because he was one of the few actors sober on set and capable of doing more than read his cue cards !

Awful film with ham acting and dreadful direction. Also heavily censored., 12 March 2014
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Desperados is obviously an attempt to up the ante in the violence stakes to rival that of the spaghetti western genre. It was filmed in 1968 in Spain with an American and British cast and an American director. However, the hysterical approach to the material proves counter-productive and the film is appallingly directed and choreographed with actors falling over for no obvious reason or otherwise standing still and waiting for things to happen to them.

An example of director Levin's ineptitude is when Palance and his gang raid a Texas town in order to rob the bank. After shooting up the place a while, some of the gang members dismount and enter the bank to rob it. Inside the bank, people are still at tills being served by cashiers as if nothing is happening! The same thing happens in the opening massacre when the Union soldiers are still emerging from their tents (to be easily shot) several minutes after wholesale gunfire has been raging nearby.

Matters are not helped by the fact that all prints are heavily censored. The opening massacre (based on Quantrill's massacre of Lawrence, Kansas) suffers from several obvious censor cuts - for example, as Palance is about to shoot a group of men lined up against a building there is an abrupt cutaway and we hear only a single shot dubbed over the face of Vince Edwards - and is extremely choppy as a result. A scene towards the end between Palance and Kate O'Mara is also heavily cut.

In the face of this ineptitude, some ripe overacting by Palance and the actor who plays his youngest son is the only thing left to enjoy.

Awful AC Lyles production, 11 March 2014
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is poor even by the standards of an AC Lyles 'old geezer' western. Audiences back when this was released must have realised that it was bottom of the barrel schlock and laughed throughout. Anachronistic songs and music, old rheumatic actors in need of doubles, pathetic choreography; anyone seeing this in 1966 must have felt that they had gone through a timewarp and re-emerged in the 1950s.

The highlight has to be the saloon fight between Dana Andrews and Lyle Bettger or, rather, the fight between their stunt doubles since the faces of the stuntmen are visible throughout and Bettger's has a different hair colour. I also laughed out loud when a rubber dummy was catapaulted into the air after an explosion and when a character was all smiles about 10 seconds after being told that her father was dead.

RG Springsteen was a hack but had directed a relatively competent film (Bullet for a Badman) only a little while previously so it is not clear why, other than cheap budget and rushed shooting schedule, he is so slapdash here. Note also that Andrews' ride to Jane Russell's house is conveyed by using footage recycled from earlier in the film.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Routine and inept B filler western, 31 January 2014
3/10

Dating from 1964, the latter Audie Murphy western is a routine B filler littered with continuity errors (most notably, the church building in which all the windows are dark from the outside but inside the lights are on full pelt), stunt doubles and poor tactics (when attacking the town the villains don't decide to use dynamite to destroy the barricade until about half of them have been killed in a pointless full-frontal attack). It does have a high body count and Ted De Corsia overacts enjoyably in a role he previously played only 4 years before in Noose for a Gunman. (this film is a remake of that from the same production company).

With these 1960s colour B westerns it is noticeable how ridiculously clean everything is. One guesses the film was shot on standard TV sets during the season break.

I was intrigued by the member of outlaw De Corsia's band who seemed to be at least 70 years old. This guy says nothing the whole time and must have been cast because he was a friend or relation of someone. His moment of fame comes when the outlaws lay siege to Murphy who is in a hotel. Throughout the sequence, this OAP stands next to De Corsia gurning, looking around for no obvious reason and pointing his gun at his boss.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Overwrought film with some daft casting, 27 January 2014
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is not clear to me why this film is so highly rated on the board. I saw it recently and it was incredible overwrought and full of bizarre casting decisions. Plus the central premise suffers from a critical design flaw.

Firstly, we're in the wild west circa 1870 or 1880 (I guess) so what is a rich landowner doing with 3 unmarried children well over the age of 30? It simply wouldn't happen back then. Halliday keeps ranting on about wanting to keep his 'brand' pure but he's not going to have a brand because his kids are all childless. Maybe this is intended to be an irony of the script but if so everyone keeps very quiet about it.

Secondly, how old is Joesph Cotten's character supposed to be? 25-30? Cotten doesn't look as old as 51 (his real age) but does look at least 40. A bit old to have a rebellion and certainly it's not really plausible that he goes from mild mannered sop to a virtually superhuman avenger whom no posse can catch.

A Swedish Indian? That's original at least.

Janette Nolan caked up in some ridiculous make-up and overacting like mad as usual.

Bond pulls a gun on Cotten - which he presumably got from somewhere and hadn't hidden in his bed for several months - and is disarmed by Blair. Rather than take the gun away and put it somewhere safe, she then sticks it in the drawer next to his bed within easy reach! Dumb or what? I tried to like this one but it just had some many ridiculous characters and situations I couldn't. Director Lewis tries with what he has but the money obviously went on the stars here since make of the scene are filmed in a single take with obviously no time to reshoot even if Betsy Blair cannot act.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Boring and pretentious though Finney chews the scenery to some effect, 25 July 2011

This project was done in a hurry when a proposal to make a film of Ned Kelly was axed by MGM due to budget worries (at this time Tom Jones had been filmed but not released).

It is not clear why Riesz decided to make a film of this play. Clearly, the part of Danny is tailor made for some show-off acting and Finney grabs the bull by the horns here. His only real mistake is to put on a silly 'boyo Welsh accent. True, the character was Welsh in the play but that's because the part was written by the playwright to play himself. Otherwise, there is no dramatic need for Danny to have a Welsh accent and Robert Montgomery didn't bother in the 1937 version.

The main difference between the film and the play is that the film reveals its hand in the first minute that Danny is a psycho killer. In the play, its not clear until near the end and much of the dialogue are cat n'mouse exchanges between Danny and Olivia.

The result of this is to create a somewhat boring film; you know who the killer is and thus spend an hour and a hour waiting for him to explode. When he does, it has little logic and, to an audience used to the likes of Psycho and its rip-offs like Homicidal, seeing Finney deliver one blow to an off-screen body that you never get to see was always going to be a serious let-down. His retreat into gibberish at the end I thought was uncharacteristic and a cop-out. You never find out who the real Danny is and why he has acted like he has done. I did enjoy the 'hangbags' between Sheila Hancock and Susan Hampshire on the high street of an authentically 60s wet Hertfordshire town.

10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
One of the all time worst, 30 June 2008
1/10

OK this is supposed to be a kiddie matinée flick but its appallingly bad, even for medieval sword movies. Apart from the obvious anachronisms which one can probably accept in a fantasy (a saracen at king arthur's court and a viking/druid/saracen alliance) we have two things that lift it to the very highest of bad movie standards: (a) an awful lot of the action scenes appear to be stock footage from another film, possibly a Spanish one given that the backgrounds don't look like England at all. It looks as if the plot was fitted around this hence the whole druid sacrifice scene which makes no sense at all in the film's context. All of the shoddy action staging commented upon by other reviewers seems to result from trying to fit new footage to this stock footage. As a result, much of the action makes no sense at all and there are continuity errors galore. The brunette Medina gets fitted with a blonde wig in her druid sacrifice scene so that she'll match with the long shots of the stock footage (obviously a male stunt man in drag)!! (b) Alan Ladd's performance is simply abysmal. He can't act at all and for many scenes he is obviously doubled and you see his double's face several times. Ladd can't even convincingly cut a presence here and just looks awkward - the pint sized star just doesn't have the physical presence that the likes of Errols Flynn (or even Tony Curtis) could give to a role like this.


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