HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Scalphunters, The Two guys named Joe
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, ComedyBuy from Amazon
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 3371 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: