DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

WINGS OF THE HAWK (director: Budd Boetticher; screenwriters: Kay Lenard/James E. Moser/based on the novel by Gerald Drayson Adams; cinematographer: Clifford Stine; editor:  Russell Schoengarth; music: Frank Skinner; cast: Van Heflin (Gallager), Julie Adams (Raquel Noriega), Abbe Lane (Elena), George Dolenz (Col. Paco Ruiz), Pedro Gonzales-Gonzales (Tomas), Antonio Moreno (Father Perez), Noah Beery Jr. (Orozco), Rodolfo Acosta (Arturo Torres), Mario Siletti (Marco), Paul Fierro (Carlos), Rico Alaniz (Capt. Gomez); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Aaron Rosenberg; Universal-International; 1953)

"A fast-paced superior adventure story, shot in 3-D and in lush technicolor by the under-appreciated great filmmaker Budd Boetticher."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A fast-paced superior adventure story, shot in 3-D and in lush technicolor by the under-appreciated great filmmaker Budd Boetticher ("Horizons West"/"Seminole"/"The Tall T"). It's based on the novel by Gerald Drayson Adams and it's deliciously written by James E. Moser.

The macho American mining engineer Irish Gallagher (Van Heflin) and his loyal Mexican partner, Marco (Mario Siletti), in 1911, after several years working their mine in northern Mexico, strike gold. Their happiness is short-lived, as the area is in the middle of an uprising by the peasant farmers and the corrupt appointed province leader Colonel Paco Ruiz (George Dolenz) and his federale soldiers come to the mine and demand a half partnership for protection. Gallager refuses and while fleeing, Marco is killed. Before the troops can kill Gallager on the trail, he's saved by a group of insurgents, led by Raquel Noriega (Julie Adams), who ambush the soldiers and take the mining engineer blindfolded to their hideout and leader, Arturo Torres (Rodolfo Acosta). When a bandit named Orozco (Noah Beery Jr.), also fighting for the revolution, has a plan that requires the help of Arturo's rebels, Arturo, Raquel's lover, refuses to help because it's too risky and he doesn't like the bandit and it requires raising $5,000 to cross the border and buy guys from the gringo. The plan is that Orozco's men attack Juarez, while the peasants stop Ruiz's troops from going to Juarez as reinforcements.

After the mining engineer, not interested in politics, only wanting his mine back, takes a bullet out of Raquel's shoulder gotten during the skirmish, and he's led back to town blindfolded. In town, he discovers he's wanted for murder and before he can flee he's captured with Raquel, who visited the rebel sympathizer Father Perez (Antonio Moreno), to find out if her younger sister Elena (Abbe Lane) is still living with the monster Ruiz. Scheduled to be executed at daybreak, the priest gets word to the rebels and they free the captives. When Arturo is still too cowardly to act, Gallager takes over the leadership role and falls in love with the gritty Raquel.

The action sequences are great, the acting is first-class for a horse opera flick and the few pauses of action in the storyline over the repetitive bickering by the rebels is not that bad of a flaw to dynamite such an entertaining pic. To its credit, Boetticher is one of the few directors who worked in  3-D and shot the pic in a subdued way without all the usual hokey efforts to throw things at the screen to showoff the 3-D special effects. Boetticher wisely cared more about the story than any technical feats, and his subdued filming drew the usual criticism from the yahoos.

REVIEWED ON 8/16/2013       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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