Chucking It All Away
This is a strange western that I think owes some inspiration from John
Ford's classic Cheyenne Autumn. Like the Ford movie it's concerning
starving Indians on the reservation, in this case Arapahoe who resolve
not to starve any longer.
Especially when post commander John Mills has plenty of army supplies
in his fort and won't feed the Arapahoe or give them guns to hunt. His
fort is a last chance outpost where apparently the army sends all its
misfits from the commander on down. Holding some kind of discipline
together is Sergeant Ernest Borgnine.
Into the mix rides gunfighter Rod Taylor in the title role together
with Luciana Paluzzi and her niece Victoria Vetri. Paluzzi and Taylor
had a little something something going back in the day.
In any event the Arapahoes have them boxed in with a massacre
impending. Our sympathies are completely with the Indians on this one.
This post contains some of the worst specimens of human being ever
gathered together in one spot. Mills is a frightening spectacle with
Borgnine enforcing his edicts on an unruly post. Of course there's a
reason he's a drunken shell of a man which we learn near the end of the
Chuka misses being a classic because of the pedestrian direction it got
from Gordon Douglas. Someone like Delmar Daves or John Huston could
have made it a classic. The cast is a good one.
John Ford would never have directed it though, no way he would have
portrayed his beloved United States Cavalry like this..
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It's got it's problems but I can't help myself, I still enjoyed it.
I'd love to have given this a higher vote than 6 but there are just
enough corny, well okay bad scenes, that meant I just couldn't bring
myself to do it.
Fact is though that all the problems with the film for me were washed
away with that one moment at the end of the film that brought it back
from being below average to being rather satisfying.
I don't really care so much about historical accuracy. I doubt many
people would watch this film with the idea that they are being educated
about life in the west 150 years ago. The story is the key and I was
quite able to accept most of it. The jarring moments are the ones where
Rod Stewart can't carry off some really poor dialogue and some really
bad, well, let me say, childish stuff where his character is putting
across the tough guy persona that misses by a long way.
The vast majority of westerns that were made were pretty poor. They
were churned out as fast as Zane Grey could write them. No wonder then
that the really good ones made such an impact since they were such a
shock compared to the usual dross.
I haven't actually watched this film for, oh 20 years or so, but I have
never forgotten it and have thought on it often. It is a personal
favorite in that way and if I can get a copy I will buy it.
It isn't a great film. It has many flaws. But ... I enjoyed it and
would gladly watch it again..