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.
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>
The UK DVD release has been re-edited to remove all instances of horses being trip-wired. According to the British Board of Film Classification, such a tactic contravenes the 1937 Cinematograph Act (following the carnage of the flying W in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)), which forbids the ill treatment of any animal in the making of a film (although some stuntmen claim that the method can be performed without harming any horses). 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 »
Robert Aldrich's savage 1972 revenge western which as harrowing now as then - a band of Apaches's have left the reservation and gone on a killing spree - Young and idealistic Lt DeBuin(Bruce Davison) is put in charge of the calvary sent out to stop them - he is joined by wily,plain speaking scout McIntosh(a splendidly grizzeled Burt Lancaster) and his trusty Apache assistant Ki-No-Tay - the chase is on to stop Ulzana before he does too much killing.... DeBuin is from devout Christian stock and is appalled at the cruelty meted out to the Apache's victim's - he starts from a point that they are no different to himself but as the burnings,rapes and torture mount he begins to question how these men could have been made in God's image.
McIntosh is more sanguine about it - he respects the Apache but has no illusions about the way they operate - Aldrich doesn't shy away from the more grisly acts but its more than the usual Injun bashing - the point is made that if the white man treated them better then they woudn't feel the need to do these things - McIntosh is not so convinced and there is a factinating conversation between DeBuin and Ki-No-Tay about why the Apache kill and how others deaths give the killer power. Along the way DeBuin has his metal tested and has to make decisions that affect the life and deaths of both homesteaders and his troops - Davison is good in the role and Lancaster is excellent as the older,more experienced man who has seen it all before but knows what needs to be done - but still brings a warmth and humanity to the character.
Of course any search and destroy raiding party Western of the time can have endless Vietnam parallels - and the fine script leaves the film open to more than one interpretation. Fine stuff.
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