Sunday, Sep 2020
Director: Michael Curtiz
Screenwriters: James Edward Grant & Clair Huffaker
Length: 107 mins.
Theme Song: Comancheros- Elmer Bernstein
Released: 1961

comancheros posterMichael Curtiz' last movie. He also directed Dodge City (1939) and Virginia City (1940), both Erroll Flynn shoot-em-up Westerns; also Santa Fe Trail (1940) with Ronald Reagan! and Casablanca (1942).

Wayne is a righteous Texas Ranger who is extraditing a man from Texas to New Orleans who is wanted for killing a jealous rival in a duel. The movie starts out, "New Orleans, 1843..." As Wayne transports the prisoner, then loses him, then gets him back, they sort of bond, and so the picture becomes like a road/buddy movie. There is humor in the movie and Wayne's character -- Jake -- can be funny. I think his character here may have been reprised in a later movie, Big Jake. This is basically what I'll call an Indian War Movie. The dreaded Comanche's are the threat here. The Comancheros are a ruthless gang that supplies guns and whiskey to the Comanche Indians. Wayne infiltrates them with his prisoner.

The movie can be slow, but there are 2 portions where the film is ignited. The first is Lee Marvin's entrance and subsequent scenes with Wayne. Marvin simply lights up the screen and demonstrably elevates Wayne's performance. They have some good drunk scenes together, and we hate to see Marvin leave the picture. In mentioning Marvin's delightful spot it should be noted that though his role was a great addition to the film, it also brought to light what must have been one of the most atrocious make-up jobs in Westerns -- even movie-- history, notwithstanding the Greek and Italians made up to play Indians. Marvin's character, 'Crow' has been partly scalped. The wound over a quarter of his skull looks like an immense wad of chewing gum stuck to his head. Or perhaps some dried oatmeal? The movie next picks up when Wayne and his prisoner get into the Comancheros' hideout. This is a bad band of dudes, comparable to the Drug Lords we see in the movies today. The movie is a little bit "about" the Indians, but does not do much with the Indian issue other than to paint them as a menace on the frontier. "The Indian specialty is not being seen," Wayne says....

Certainly a Good View and would be nothing more, but the scenes with Lee Marvin and those with the Comancheros make this Western a Must See.

--Jed

Cast:

  • John Wayne ... Capt. Jake Cutter Texas Ranger
  • Stuart Whitman .... Paul Regret
  • Ina Balin.... Pilar Graile
  • Nehemiah Persoff .... Graile
  • Lee Marvin ...Tully Crow
  • Michael Ansara ...Amelung
  • Patrick Wayne ... Tobe, Texas Ranger
  • Bruce Cabot ... Major Henry, Commander of Texas Rangers
  • Joan O'Brien ... Melinda Marshall
  • Jack Elam... Horseface
  • Edgar Buchanan .... Circuit Court Judge Thaddeus Jackson Breen
  • Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams .... Gunrunner
  • Henry Daniell .... Gireaux
  • Richard Devon .... Estevan
  • Steve Baylor .... Comanchero
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