HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Harpoon
Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, The
Dark Phoenix
No Mercy
Arctic
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Ladyworld
Rocketman
Kid Who Would Be King, The
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
America America
Darkest Minds, The
Along Came Jones
Hummingbird Project, The
Under the Table You Must Go
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War
Hanging Tree, The
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare
Itsy Bitsy
Witchmaker, The
Prey, The
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Happy Death Day 2U
Full Moon High
Strange But True
Kamikaze 1989
Never Grow Old
Time of Your Life, The
Mountain Men, The
Epic
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
   
 
Newest Articles
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
   
 
  Scalphunters, The Two guys named JoeBuy this film here.
Year: 1968
Director: Sidney Pollack
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Shelley Winters, Telly Savalas, Ossie Davis, Dabney Coleman, Paul Picerni, Dan Vadis, Armando Silvestre, Nick Cravat, Tony Epper, Chuck Roberson, John Epper, Jack Williams
Genre: Western, Comedy
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Trapper Joe Bass (Burt Lancaster) is on his way to town with a bunch valuable hides to sell when he is ambushed by Indians. They take all his hides and by way of payment leave him runaway slave Joseph Lee (Ossie Davis). But Joe has no use for Joseph and, determined to get his property back, follows them. Before he can do anything, the Indians are attacked by murderous scalphunters led by ruthless Howie (Telly Savalas) who has long-suffering girlfriend Kate (Shelley Winters) in tow. When Joseph falls into their hands too, Joe reckons he has an inside advantage. But wily Joseph is not about to kow-tow to either side.

Critics and western aficionados such as Quentin Tarantino commonly cite the comedy westerns of the late Sixties as example of the genre's decline. However, some of these harboured ambitious social agendas sweetening their progressive ideas with crowd-pleasing comic antics. For example, Cat Ballou (1965), arguably the finest comic western of the period, successfully satirized double-standards in the depiction of feisty female gunslingers in-between hilarious scenes with Lee Marvin in fine Oscar-winning form and Jane Fonda looking especially adorable in skin-tight jeans. In the case of The Scalphunters screenwriter William Norton fused the comedy western with a race relations drama along the lines of The Defiant Ones (1958), wherein a racist but resourceful white man finds himself caught up with a smart, articulate African-American in a situation that forces them both to co-operate.

A lifelong political activist, Norton – who along with his son, Bill L. Norton, director of Cisco Pike (1972), spent two years in a French prison in the 1980s for attempting to smuggle arms to the I.R.A – came to specialize in action vehicles for rugged leading men. He penned Brannigan (1975) for John Wayne and wrote extensively for Burt Reynolds, e.g. Sam Whiskey (1969), The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973), White Lightning (1973) and Gator (1976). Norton also had a sideline in exploitation cinema writing the likes of I Dismember Mama (1972), Big Bad Mama (1974), Moving Violation (1976) and Day of the Animals (1978), although his best work remains prisoner of war drama The McKenzie Break (1970). Typical of the left-leaning projects to which uber-masculine star Burt Lancaster often lent his name, The Scalphunters marked the first of three times he worked with actor-turned-director Sidney Pollack. He later hired Pollack to replace Frank Perry directing additional scenes for The Swimmer (1968) and collaborated again on arty, offbeat war drama Castle Keep (1969).

Opening with a rather charming animated credit sequence depicting Trapper Joe's past in the mountains, the film establishes him as an endearing nature lover which goes some way towards counterbalancing his racism later on. Norton sprinkles his script with wry asides satirizing racial and social attitudes in the old West. Significantly, Joseph Lee is far better educated than Joe. He can read and write, speaks Latin and has a knowledge of history and often uses these to his advantage against the illiterate mountain man. However, the white man knows the wilderness: what plants to eat and which have other uses, while Joseph Lee is comically inept in the wild. At first he ends up the butt of Joe's jokes but it is not long before the tables are turned. All too aware of his position as a commodity, Joseph plays both sides against each other, looking to improve his lot. The film clues the viewer in to the reality of Joseph's plight so that we come to understand his reasoning even though this has the regrettable side-effect of reinforcing Joe Bass' notion he is not to be entirely trusted. It boils down to Howie and Joe Bass representing two sides of the white establishment: one cruel and oppressive, the other paternal but patronizing. Ultimately Joseph must stand up to both in order to prove his independence as a man.

After a strong start the film lags in the middle, bogged down in tense stand-offs but also meandering waffle that does little to propel the plot. Also regrettable is that the film upholds the rights of one oppressed group at the expense of another, chiefly women. Lone female character Kate endures one indignity after another culminating in a darkly humorous yet still kind of grim punchline. Heavy-handed at times but with its heart in the right place, the action culminates in a none-too-subtly symbolic finale wherein both protagonists slug it out in the swamp and end up caked in mud, therefore the same colour. Lancaster is on fine ruggedly charismatic form while Ossie Davies gives a nuanced performance. He went on to be a significant figure in African-American cinema, both in front of and behind the camera notably directing Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1389 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: