Action / Western
Action / Western
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Shalako, the hunter and tracker, has to save a party of European hunters who are in danger from an Indian uprising. —John Vogel.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
Aug 15, 2021 at 10:31 PM
grade Movie Reviews
Survival Western from 1968 with Sean Connery & Brigitte Bardot (and Valerie French)
DIRECTOR: Edward Dmytryk. WRITERS: Louis L'Amour (novel) and Clarke Reynolds (screenplay). CAST: Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot, Sephen Boyd, Honor Blackman, Jack Hawkins, Woody Strode and Valerie French. RUNTIME: 1 hour 53 minutes. LOCATIONS: Spain. COUNTRY: UK/West Germany.THE STORY: A pompous group of European nobles on a hunting vacation in New Mexico are beset by a band of Apaches who don't appreciate them trespassing on their lands. After the Europeans are abandoned by their guides they are helped by an intrepid loner named Shalako (Connery). Can they make it out alive?As you can see, this European film has a lot going for it. It's based on a Louis L'Amour novel and has a great cast. Yet, it bombed when it was originally released, but it's actually a very good realistic Western. Besides, how can you go wrong with Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot?Disregarding the horrible title song, the opening is reminiscent of "Duel at Diablo" and the rest of the film resembles "Hombre," which were both released in the late 60s as well. "Shalako" has the same tone, so if you like those films you'll probably appreciate "Shalako."Although there's a lot of good Western action, including one excellent long battle sequence between the whites and the Natives, there's quite a bit of drama. As such, I encourage you to utilize the subtitles due to the heavily-accented dialogue; it helps you to keep up with the story and characters. There's also some good character definement. The film is a story of arrogance and betrayal -- the arrogance of the Europeans who have no respect for the "lowbred" cowboys or "savages," and the betrayal of the American guides, headed excellently by Stephen Boyd (Messala in "Ben-Hur"). But, to my pleasure, "Shalako" is mostly a survival story. I love survival stories, like "Sands of the Kalahari" and "Flight of the Phoenix." This brings to mind other survival-themed Westerns like "Escape from Fort Bravo," "They Came to Cordura" and "Duel at Diablo." "Shalako" stands well with these films.Can you believe Woody Strode, a black man, is cast as the main Native American antagonist? It works, believe it or not, as he looks convincingly Indian.THE BABE REPORT: Of course, Brigitte Bardot is one of the most beautiful women to ever grace God's earth. With the exception of one bathing scene she's dressed to the hilt throughout. But -- man -- she has such a cute, pouty face and incredible locks of full blond hair. Interestingly, she was chosen to play Bond's love interest in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (the only non-Connery Bond picture of the 60s with George Lazenby as Bond), but she was ironically booked with Connery doing this movie. Honor Blackman, who played Pussy Galore in "Goldfinger," is also on hand. I never thought she was all that beautiful, although I like her as an actor.Of great interest to me was the appearance of the underrated brunette Valerie French. She played the hottie in "Jubal" (1956) when she was 28. "Shalako" was her final film and she was 40 at the time of release. She's mainly a background character but she does have some lines and you'll catch quite a few good glimpses of her. She's almost as beautiful as Bardot, albeit brunette. And, no, it makes no difference that she's 40.FINAL ANALYSIS: I fully expected to not like "Shalako" due to the bad or lukewarm reviews, but I was pleasantly surprised. The critics are way off. This is a really good late-60's Western. Those with ADHD might not like it 'cause there's a lot of character-defining drama, but I found it worthwhile for all the above reasons.Some criticize the ending as ridiculous, but I liked it. Would it likely happen in real life? Probably not. But I didn't find it all that unbelievable. In other words, the filmmakers pulled it off. It's a good MOVIE ending. That's why they went with it.GRADE: B+
An Under Rated .. Curiosity?
The caste alone is worth the admission: Connery, Bardot, Hawkins,Steven Boyd, Eric Sykes, Honor Blackman, Woody Strode, others ... Mostly European (actors) - strange for a Western - but not unrealistic to the times. Hawkins and Boyd - both recently out of starring in Ben Hur. A coterie of fine acting talent and charismatic screen artists. Proves my theory as to why Western Film will never die: Every Actor and every Director want to make a Western at some point. Connery and Bardot have some nice interplay in sharing the bulk of the screen time. Meanwhile here's some decent action here in what is a pretty well a straight up Western adventure tale. Possibly a Western that will enjoy greater appreciation with time.
The film never becomes exciting despite incidental brutalities...
Brigitte Bardot went on to Hollywood but did not fare any better... 'Shalako,' a British-produced Western directed by Edward Dmytryk, teamed her with Sean Connery and Stephen Boyd (her partner in 'The Night Heaven Fell') in a smoldering relationship charged with tension and passion...The idea is cute and unbelievable: A party of European aristocrats are on a hunting safari in New Mexico in the 1880's... They are traveling with full equipage including butlers, maids, fine linens and vintage wines...When their safari is led upon an Apache reservation, the Indians become annoyed, and Countess Irina Lazaar (Brigitte Bardot) is attacked by a savage Apache... Shalako (Sean Connery), a scout for the U.S. Army, bravely attempts to save her and leads the aristocrats away from imminent annihilation... With the Indians determined to attack, each member of the hunting party faces the greatest peril of their lives...Edward Dmytryk seems to have attempted to recapture the freshness and essence of the 'B.B.' that Roger Vadim had helped to shape... But the re-creation escapes him, despite the careful choice of Louis L'Amour's novel and the casting of international stars as Jack Hawkins ('Lawrence of Arabia'), Peter Van Eyck ('The Longest Day'), Honor Blackman ('Goldfinger'), Woody Strode ('Spartacus'), and Valerie French ('Jubal'). The film never becomes exciting despite incidental brutalities...
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