Archive for May 3rd, 2013

50 Movie Gunslinger Classics Disc 2

Posted in Movies and TV on May 3rd, 2013

Cry Blood, Apache, 1970, color. Jack Starrett (dir.), Jody McCrea, Marie Gahva, Dan Kemp, Robert Tessier, Jack Starrett, Don Henley, Rick Nervick, Joel McCrea (briefly). 1:22.

Despite the common words, this is not Apache Blood, and nowhere near as bad—although it fails one of my tests for a movie I can actually enjoy, which is that there has to be at least one sympathetic character. Actually, now that I think of it, with two of the three words in the other flick, it’s about two-thirds as bad.

The closest one here is the oldish Westerner who begins and ends the film, riding out with an old shotgun to look over a scene…which becomes the flashback that makes up the rest of the movie. His younger self is the least awful of five savages who first party among a group of Apache, then slaughter them—leaving one young woman, who they bring along with them to lead them to gold (one of the group had some gold nuggets). She speaks Spanish, and the younger version of the oldish Westerner also speaks Spanish and manages not to actually kill anybody in the massacre himself, although he doesn’t prevent any of the savagery or refrain from accompanying the rest of them. (Let’s be clear: The five savages in this case are all Anglos.)

As they’re riding slowly toward the Arizona desert and the promise of gold, we’re split between dealings within this odd, nasty group and seeing the Apache who’s returned to the camp, seen all the death—and set out stalking the five. (Well, six, but he doesn’t know his sister’s still alive and with the others.) The five include, in addition to the bilingual less-vicious-than-the-rest “hero,” one fat sociopath who relies on glasses, his brother (I guess), a top-hatted cardplayer named Two-Card, and a “Deacon” who’s pretty clearly a little off his nut. Along the way, we get one big fight in a running stream and a number of other incidents.

Eventually, the Apache catches up with them, releases their horses and does most of them in—with some viciously slow deaths that take away any chance for him to be the sympathetic character, even if was the most wronged. In the end…well, never mind. Good points: Good print, good color, great scenery (Arizona and Sequoia National Forest). Bad points: Except for possibly the young woman, who’s not a major character, there’s nobody likable in this lot. Most of the acting is pretty bad (including the not-very-graceful Apache); notably, the director and assistant director were also in the cast (and McCrea produced it). It got an R rating, probably because there’s one scene with some distant partial nudity, involving another Indian woman—and we never do find out what happened to her. On balance, and concentrating on the scenery rather than the acting or plot, I’ll give it $0.75.

Deadwood ’76, 1965, color. James Landis (dir.), Arch Hall Sr. (screenplay and producer), Arch Hall Jr., Jack Lester, La Donna Cottier, Arch Hall Sr., Liz Renay, Robert Dix, Richard Cowl, David Reed. 1:37.

Set in the near future in Deadwood, South Dakota, this movie eerily foretells a future TV series…. Nah, this one’s set in 1876 when it was still The Dakotas and a territory, but the timing’s right in other respects: The Black Hills gold rush is beginning and this illegal settlement—the Black Hills belonged to the Lakotas by treaty—was the heart of it. The movie’s set in Deadwood (and has lots of great Black Hills scenery), but it’s mostly about Billy May (Arch Hall, Jr.), a young man who’s fast with a gun and out to make his fortune, after drifting away from Georgia at the end of the Civil War (he enlisted at age 12). Things start as he comes along an old coot in a wagon full of cats (I’m not making this up) who’s been accosted by a group from the local tribe—who, in fact, don’t shoot the old coot but seem to find the cats awfully amusing. Billy May gets the drop on them, takes away their rifles—but doesn’t shoot them, to the old coot’s dismay. (The old coot’s from Tennessee, on his way to Deadwood to sell the cats to raise a stake to mine for gold and make his fortune.)

That’s just the start of lots’o’plot, involving the local madame, the too-sleek gamblin’ man, some locals who think they’re mighty fast with a gun, the belief after Billy outdraws them that he’s Billy the Kid (and Wild Bill Hickock’s on his way for a showdown), some gold mining, a remarkably civilized and peaceful tribe who’s now sheltering Billy’s long-lost father, who has a harebrained scheme by which the Confederacy shall rise again, a young Indian woman who falls for Billy and, well, that’s just some of it.

It does not end happily for all concerned. I’ve already included some spoilers. There is at least one interesting cliché reversal at the end of the film, but I’ll leave that for those who watch it.

I have mixed feelings about this one. The intertwined plots are interesting if overdone, the scenery’s good, the print’s pretty good, it moves right along and there are remarkably few deaths (and very little blood) for the kind of movie it is, and the tribe is treated as civilized, not savages. Unfortunately, as with the two other Arch Hall-backed movies starring Arch Hall, Jr., that I’ve seen, I find Jr. irritating—this time he doesn’t sing, but the smirk on his face gets real old real fast and he is just a bit shy of being a profound actor. All things considered, I’ll give it $1.25.

Jesse James’ Women, 1954, color. Don ‘Red’ Barry (dir., writer, producer, star), Peggie Castle, Jack Bustel, Lita Baron, Joyce Barrett, Betty Brueck. 1:24.

The story is that Jesse James and his gang (eight men including one Robert Ford, one deaf woman who manages their hideaway) have moved to Mississippi, where he’s triple-timing various women in a small town along with the world’s easiest bank holdup. Various subplots, such as they are, lead up to James double-crossing pretty much everybody except his two closest cohorts and somehow making up for it by giving a bunch of loot to the local preacher, as they ride off into the sunset.

I knew I was in trouble from the opening credits. Starring Don Barry. Screenplay by Don Barry. Story by Don Barry (and others). Directed and produced by Don Barry. He’s got a nice smile, very obvious makeup (many of the actors are so made up they look artificial), no apparent acting skills, not a clue as to how this clown could be Jesse James.

The only similarity between Don Barry and the real Jesse James is that he managed to rob me of an hour and twenty-four minutes. Being very generous, and factoring in the lack of serious bloodshed (and one epic catfight among two of the women James is busy wronging), this might be worth $0.75.

God’s Gun, (orig. Diamante Lobo), 1976, color. Gianfranco Parolini (dir.), Lee Van Cleef, Jack Palance, Richard Boone, Sybil Danning, Leif Garrett, Robert Lipton. 1:34 [1:37].

Originally reviewed as part of the small set of spaghetti westerns (C&I 10.7). I didn’t watch it again; you can read the full review where it first appeared. Despite an impressive cast, this was an awful, awful film—not as bad as Apache Blood, but remarkably crappy. I said that, although I thought it was worthless, dedicated Lee Van Cleef fans might give it $0.50. Or not.


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