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Friday, June 20, 2014

Shalako (1968)

In the American West of the 1880s, an ex-soldier (Sean Connery) comes across a group of European aristocrats on a hunting party. When he informs them that they have trespassed onto Apache territory protected by a treaty, they're rather arrogant and unconcerned about the "savages". But when the Apaches attack their camp at dawn, they realize the seriousness of their situation. Based on the novel by Louis L'Amour, this was one of many westerns shot in Europe (usually in Spain) in the 1960s. While it doesn't have the feel of a "spaghetti" western, the mostly European cast gives it an international flavor. The film opens with a disturbing hunt for a mountain lion that makes you wish all hunters could be prey for a day to know what it feels like. When we meet the privileged and arrogant titled aristocrats, they're so unlikable that you can't summon much sympathy for them and, in fact, almost feel like cheering when they get an arrow into them. Still, the fate of Honor Blackman (GOLDFINGER) is so hideous that it's almost unwatchable. Unfortunately, for a film that stars two of the biggest sex symbols of the 60s, Connery and Brigitte Bardot as a countess, it's shocking that they have zero chemistry together. I found it rather entertaining though. There's a nice underscore by Robert Farnon that's marred by an odious title song. Directed by Edward Dmytryk (THE CAINE MUTINY). With Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins, Peter Van Eyck, Woody Strode, Alexander Knox, Valerie French, Eric Sykes, Julian Mateos and Donald Barry.

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