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 »
Lieutenant, a horse will run so far, so fast, for so long, and then it will lie down on ya. When a horse lies down on an Apache, he puts a fire under his belly and gets him back on his feet. When the horse dies, he gets off, eats a bit of it, and steals another. Ain't no way you can better that.
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Aldrich's version runs 103 minutes and was the version released in the USA. Burt Lancaster prepared a different version (102 minutes) for European release, deleting some scenes, restoring others from the cutting room floor, rescoring some of the music. This version was released in the UK, though the British censor made some cuts to it. These are largely restored to the video release, apart from some horsefalls (totalling 45 seconds). The version show several times by BBC television is Aldrich's version, with the horsefalls restored, but some censor cuts made by the BBC themselves. See more »
A small group of Apaches has just stolen some horses and left the reservation. Their number and immediate intentions are unclear to the commander of the nearest US Calvary outpost, but his youngest Lieutenant wishes to give them the benefit of the doubt according to his Christian philosophy.
The Calvary's scout is a grizzled, weather-beaten man played to perfection by Burt Lancaster. He knows exactly what the Apaches intentions are, and seems flabbergasted by the commander of the base for whom he serves. Nevertheless, he follows his orders all the while never missing a chance to foretell what will be the result of the Commander's delays.
The premise of this movie does follow the most cynical views that one people may hold for another, and there's no point in arguing their accuracy here. Different from many other films about Indian uprisings, at least this one attempts to explain the motives of the Apaches. To appreciate any film the premise must be "swallowed", but there are many who will not be able to keep it down long enough to enjoy the excellent writing, wonderful performances, and "not a frame viewed without purpose" editing and directing. I recommend this film completely and consider it an 8 out of 10, which I give to very few films.
Upon the first viewing this has become one of my favorite, if not my very favorite, western of all time. Not for the squeamish due to extreme violence to both people and animals.
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