I’m back with three more from Turner I want to comment upon.
A MAN CALLED HORSE(1970)
I remember seeing this in the theater when It first came out. It starred Richard Harris as an English nobleman on a hunting trip in the American west. He is captured by the Sioux and used as a pack animal, beaten by the old women, generally looked on as the Chief’s property.
After Harris kills two rival Indians, he’s accepted by the Sioux as a warrior. Before he can buy the Chief’s sister for a wife, he must go through the Sun ritual to prove his bravery. That scene of him hanging by his pectorals is the one that has stuck with me all these years.
It was the first movie I’d ever seen that treated Indians(yes, they were Indians back then, not Native Americans) as real people and not just as foils to be slaughtered or exploited by the white man. It was a favorite at the time.
This one starred William Holden In the title role and Richard Widmark as Rossiter, a Confederate officer. Rossiter badgers, beats, and conjoles Kelly into stealing a herd of cattle back that he’d just driven from Texas for the Union army.
They don’t like each other and several escape attempts are foiled throughout the movie. By the end, though, there’s a grudging respect between the two.
I’m probably wrong, but I don’t remember seeing a movie or reading a book that had the Civil War and cattle drives together. it was a nice plot. I liked this one also.
THE WAY WEST
This was based on a novel by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.He won the Pulitzer prize for it. I guess I need to find a copy and read it.
Kirk Douglas leads a wagon train to Oregon. He’s single-minded, a hard task master even on himself. Robert Mitchum plays the scout guiding the train. Richard Widmark’s here as one of the train with his family. Jack Elam is along as a stowaway preacher, and a very young Sally Field is a flirty young woman.
They go through the usual things: Indians, losing people along the way, rain, dry spells(mind the water, a drop at a time). There’s one nice little trick where Mitchum and Widmark force a war party to wear down their horses by dressing the same and riding similar horses, riding around in huge circles, switching off every now and then to rest their animals.
The trail is rough. Actually no trail most of the time. Another nice touch was having to lower everything, wagons, animals, people by rope into a deep canyon right at the end. Kirk Douglas’ fate was totally unexpected. Put me in mind of Moses seeing the promised land, but not being allowed to enter. Could be that was Guthrie’s intent. I don’t know. I’m no expert.
I enjoyed all three, only one of which I’d seen before.