Burt Lancaster & Jean Peters as blue-eyed Apaches
If you can suspend disbelief that Burt Lancaster and Jean Peters are
Apaches, then this isn't a bad western. If you can't, well then there's
gonna be a lot of low ratings posted here.
In 1886, Geronimo and his braves surrender to the U.S. Calvary in New Mexico
and are shipped off to Ft. Marion, Florida. All except one, an Apache named
Massai (Burt Lancaster) who begins a one man war against the
Massai escapes from the train that is shipping the Apaches back east and
makes his way back to New Mexico. From there, he attacks wagons, soldiers,
bridges etc., making life hard for the authorities. He kidnaps Nalinle
(Jean Peters) and takes her up to the hills with him while Indian scouts
John McIntire and Charles Bronson hunt them down.
Massai finds an isolated spot in the high country and starts to plant a
small corn field from seed he got from a Cherokee farmer (Morris Ankrum).
He also gets Peters pregnant with child.
The ending scene in Massai's little cornfield is pure Hollywood. The action
scenes are tight as we see Lancaster jumping from rock to rock as he picks
off at least 10 of the Indian scouts that have him surrounded. But then as
Massai is wounded and runs into McIntire in the cornfield, disbelief occurs
and the conclusion seems tacked on in order to make a happy ending out of
it. You'll have to see it for yourself.
Still, it's entertaining enough as it is. It's based on a true incident and
Lancaster at least brings some dignity to his role as the noble warrior
turned farmer who wants to be left in peace. It could've turned out a lot
I give it a 6 out of 10 for his performance alone..
Run To The Hills
Following Geronimo's surrender, Massai is the last Apache warrior who
refuses to bow down to the white man. Escaping from a prison train, he
returns to his homeland in New Mexico, attacks the local fort and
escapes into the hills with Nalinle, the squaw who loves him. But
tribeless, homeless and pursued, how long can he survive ?
This is one of those rare fifties westerns which tries, within the
traditions of the genre, to portray American Indian culture with
accuracy and sympathy (see also Sam Fuller's Run Of The Arrow), and was
the first of three great westerns made by Aldrich, Lancaster and
producer Harold Hecht (the others being Vera Cruz and Ulzana's Raid).
It has three fine performances; blue-eyed Lancaster is physically
dazzling as the uncompromising Massai, who is noble, cruel, tireless in
his quest for freedom, and tortured by the defeat of his people.
Peters, little-known now but a major star in her day (and Mrs Howard
Hughes), is terrific as the woman who understands Massai's conflict and
loves him despite it. And McIntire (the sheriff in Psycho) is solid as
the weary, hard-bitten tracker who has devoted his life to both
understanding and defeating Apaches. Watch too for Bronson in a small
role, billed here under his real name, Charles Buchinsky (he adopted
his more famous moniker from 1955 onwards). Ernest Laszlo's photography
of the California and Arizona scenery is fabulous, and Aldrich's
trademark themes - machismo, independence and injustice - are all
present and correct. This was his third movie and his first cowboy
flick, and thematically is one of the most important westerns ever