Apache Review

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A defiant apache is forced to adapt to the excesses of the white man.


Part of the cycle of '50s Westerns featuring Indians as central protagonists (a trend sparked by Anthony Mann's Devil's Doorway and Delmer Daves' Broken Arrow [both 1950]), Robert Aldrich's film is uneven but involving, with James R. Webb (who also scripted Ford's comparable Cheyenne Autumn [1964]) adapting Paul l. Wellman's novel Bronco Apache.

Paleface Burt Lancaster slaps on the fake tan as proud warrior Massai, introduced defiantly shooting at tribal elders as they surrender to the US cavalry. The stage seems set for a tale of doomed rebellion, but though Massai conducts an impressive guerilla campaign, he is also tempted by dreams of a peaceful, pastoral existence with squaw Jean Peters.

Aldrich (whose original tragic ending was reshot against his will) and Lancaster handle internal and external conflict with some skill, but this isn't apache on their later collaboration, Ulzana's Raid!