Western about racial intolerance focuses around Kiowa claim that the Zachary daughter is one of their own, stolen in a raid. The dispute results in other whites turning their backs on the Zacharys when the truth is revealed by Mother. Cash, the hotheaded brother, reacts violently upon learning his "sister" is a "red-hide Indian." He leaves the family but returns to help them fight off an Indian raid.Written by
According to Burt Lancaster biographer Gary Fishgall, Lancaster and Audie Murphy were engaged in an invitational tournament at a new golf course near Durango. John Huston had an airplane filled with 2000 ping-pong balls with anti-Mexican and profane language and had them dropped all over the course, making it impossible to continue as none of the players could find their golf balls. Lancaster, who co-sponsored the event, was furious with Huston. See more »
When Ma Zachary lies dead on the table, her chest and stomach still move up and down from her breathing. See more »
[yelling at a cow eating grass growing on the Zachary family's roof]
Shoo now! Shoo! Ain't you got no better manners than to eat at the top of a house?
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Turkey in the Straw
Played after the lunch of the Zacharys and the Rawlins families See more »
John Huston Starts Trouble in Durango
In the old American West, an apocalyptic horseman startles lovely, dark-haired Audrey Hepburn (as Rachel) with some prophetic proclamations. Later, matriarchal widow Lillian Gish (as Matilda Zachary) takes aim at the old codger, but he leaves without enticing a bullet from Ms. Gish's shotgun. Gish runs her ranch with three very able bodied sons - Burt Lancaster (as Ben), Audie Murphy (as Cash), and young Doug McClure (as Andy). Ms. Hepburn is the fair-haired clan's adopted sister. As it turns out, a local Native American (Kiowa) tribe wants to right an old wrong by taking Hepburn away from her adopted family. Or else, everyone dies!
John Huston's "The Unforgiven" is a flawed, but excellent film. It does seem like some positive thesis regarding race relations - explicitly "Injuns" / implicitly others - was being attempted. But, however well-meaning the project started out, the end result is a negative. All was lost, for me, the moment Mr. Lancaster orders young Mr. McClure to make a pivotal killing. That doesn't mean the movie isn't exciting or aesthetically appealing. Hepburn's authenticity should invite no criticism; remember, she is supposed to be fooling even Mr. Murphy's keen sense of "Injun" smell; yet, she sounds too liltingly "finishing school" sophisticated for the role.
As good as he is, Lancaster doesn't really command the film's attention, either. He and Hepburn are saddled (sorry) with a love story subplot dependent upon the characters being aware they are not really brother and sister, and Hepburn being ready for action. This goes nowhere. There are several other great performers in the cast, but the film belongs to the "Zachary" family members. McClure as Lancaster's wide-eyed younger brother is nicely cast. But, the real energy comes from the characters played by Gish and Murphy; both have a couple of great cinematic moments, though, like others involved here, they had off-screen problems during the filming.
******* The Unforgiven (4/6/60) John Huston ~ Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, Lillian Gish, Audie Murphy
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