EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|WAR DRUMS (director: Reginald Le Borg; screenwriter: Gerald Drayson Adams; cinematographer: William Margulies; editor: John A. Bushelman; music: Les Baxter; cast: Les Barker (Mangas Coloradas), Ben Johnson (Luke Fargo), Joan Taylor (Riva), Larry Chance (Ponce), Richard Cutting (Judge Benton), James Parnell (Arizona), John Colicos (Chino), Jil Jarmyn (Nono); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Howard W. Koch; United Artists; 1957)|
and lackluster pro-Indian film."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Reginald Le Borg ("Joe
Palooka in Fighting Mad"/"Diary of a Madman"/"The Great Jesse James
Raid") directs this
unimaginative and lackluster pro-Indian film that feature's Tarzan
portrayer Lex Barker as the bare-chested
hunky brave and honorable
Apache chief Mangas
Coloradas. It's written by Gerald
Drayson Adams as a call for coexistence between whites, Indians and
The opening scene has Mangas Colorado
and his Apache warriors raid a camp of nasty Mexican bandits, who stole
their horses. Besides retrieving their horses, they also take the
beautiful Riva (Joan Taylor), a half-Mexican,
half-Comanche Indian girl whose father was killed by the horse thieves
during a raid on his ranch, and who is treated badly by the bandits.
When honorable white settler Luke Fargo (Ben Johnson) offers to buy Riva for a new rifle, the
chief refuses and later takes her for his bride because she's so brave
and trains her to be a warrior (a nod to feminism, no housework for
Judge Benton (Richard Cutting) tells Mangas he's to be stationed in
Silver City to make sure the peace treaty between the whites and
Apaches is honored. The chief vows not to break the treaty, but warns
the tenderfoot judge that there are 1,000 horse soldiers but 5,000
Apaches if the whites break their word. Eventually pushed into war with
the whites (gold miners
violate the American peace treaty by panning in Apache territory and
beat and shoot a mother and son who try to stop them). The Apaches react by raiding the mining
camp. Fearing the worst, Luke gets the judge's permission to stop
further bloodshed by pow-wowing with the chief. But his peace plan is
spoiled when the troops are spotted behind him and the Indians open
fire. Before it turns into a full-scale war, Luke mediates to allow the
Apaches to move with dignity into the distant hills rather than be
transported to a reservation.
The film's peace sentiments and its solution to the Indian trouble was fine; what's not fine, was how dull it was and that it didn't even make speeches about its well-intended commitments--it was just heavy going.
REVIEWED ON 9/8/2010 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ