William Shatner plays two roles: cowboy Johnny Moon and his ruthless Indian twin brother, Notah. Notah likes peyote and gets the crazy idea that he's the Comanche messiah sent to lead the Comanche nation against the white man but more specifically the dusty desert town of Rio Hondo. Moon, estranged from his brother, decides to stop Notah either by words or by bullets.Written by
The motion picture industry has trained viewers to expect certain types of music for certain types of movies and individual scenes. Occasionally a film score breaks with tradition and is recognized for its brilliance. The opening music of White Comanche should be judged with an open mind because it is within reason to allow experimentation at times. It did not turn into a classic western theme, but it is not too far out of place. As the movie continues there are some musical passages that definitely should not have been used. One sequence uses music that invokes the image of a chase scene in an old comedy, and another would have been appropriate for late 60's crime drama set in a big city. The music itself was good, but its placement does not enhance the movie. Instead it is noticeable and distracting.
William Shatner gives two acting performances that are totally opposite. As Johnny Moon, Shatner really does give a good performance. The sophistication of Johnny's character comes through, and if this were Shatner's only role in White Comanche it would be regarded more highly. As Notah Moon, Shatner cannot be taken seriously. When acting as the domineering Notah, he does not convey an image of a leader. Instead, he looks like he is rehearsing his lines for the first time. In addition, Notah is the only "comanche" with short, perfectly combed hair at all times while the rest of the Indians all have long hair.
Joseph Cotten is flawless in his performance as Sheriff Logan, but it is sad to see him in a movie that did not capitalize on his talent. Cotten must have been hired to add a "name" to the cast, but there was little for him to work with in his role.
The remainder of the cast varied in their acting qualities. Kelly, The General, and the Mayor appear to give good performances, but the dubbed voices in the soundtrack are lifeless. All of the fight scenes look like the weekend performances from a cowboy theme park-- fun in the moment but not good on film.
The greatest problem that plagued White Comanche was probably the cheapest to fix, the script. Only one scene gives some history between Johnny and Notah, and it has little depth. There is no account of how the rift between Grimes and General Garcia began or escalated. Neither Sheriff Logan or the saloon girl, Kelly, have any history. A little more explanatory dialog could have made the characters more dynamic.
White Comanche is not well made, but do not avoid it if you have the time and desire to view it.
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