(Review originally written at 25 July 2010)

This movie is widely being regarded as a classic within its genre and while it is mostly great, it's certainly not a movie that is without its flaws.

What makes this movie special above all things is that it's not really being a typical western. It has a quite great simple, effective main premise, that provide the movie with some original and awesome moments. It's strange but the movie at times doesn't even feel like a western, since it often takes a different, more realistic approach and is not being set in a town, with a couple of gunslingers taking on the local sheriff, or anything of that sort. It's a good old Indian versus cowboy story, that often more has the typical elements of a revenge flick than a western. All that it's missing is Charlie Bronson in it.

Perhaps then the acting of the movie would had also been more acceptable. Because now, I'm sorry to say, the acting is mostly being horrible. It really took me out of the movie at times. In some movies John Wayne is simply good and in his element, while in others he often showed that he wasn't the most capable actor around. He was never really known for his acting skills but he was and still is an western icon nevertheless. And I can honestly say that I actually like him in most of his movies but in this one his performance was just not acceptable. The rest of the cast also acts in a very old fashioned way, you would perhaps normally expect to see in a '30's picture. Needless to say that the acting was one of the biggest problems I had with this movie.

But also its story doesn't always flow to well. It actually is only a below 2 hours short movie but it all feels much longer, perhaps because there is so much happening in the movie and characters keep popping up in it. There are still also really some slower moments in the story but above all things I also felt that the story didn't got told too well. The movie never ever gives you the sense and feeling that they have been riding around for years, trying to find the Indian tribe, who captured the young niece of the John Wayne character and killed the rest of her family. It more feels like days, perhaps even only hours at times. The movie also doesn't really capture any emotions, other than that of being a tough and fearless guy, who can stand up for himself and can handle a problem or two. The movie is perhaps too heroic, which goes at the expense of basically every other credible emotion of the story.

It's such a shame, since everything else about the story was simply just great. I wish I could say that this was a perfect genre classic but to me it simply wasn't. The movie had too many inconsistencies and flaws in it for that.

An element that the movie benefits greatly from is its look. It's a full color western and they really used it to the max. The movie is beautiful looking with its environments and great camera-work, that has an eye for everything surrounding the story and characters. Cinematographer Winton C. Hoch was one of the best, early people in the industry that worked with full color technology. He won 3 Oscar's in his career for it, plus a special technical achievement award, earlier in his career. He did not won one for this movie though.

Overall a real great and also original movie but its flaws really prevent it from being a classic in my book.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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