Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Comancheros

(1961, USA, 107m)
d Michael Curtiz, John Wayne p George Sherman sc James Edward Grant, Clair Huffaker ph William H. Clothier ed Louis R. Loeffler ad Jack Martin Smith, Alfred Ybarra m Elmer Bernstein cast John Wayne, Stuart Whitman, Ina Balin, Nehemiah Persoff, Lee Marvin, Michael Ansara, Bruce Cabot, Patrick Wayne, Joan O’Brien, Jack Elam, Bruce Cabot, Edgar Buchanan, Bob Steele, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams

Curtiz’s final film is the enjoyably lightweight tale of a Texas Ranger and a professional gambler going up against the Comancheros, whites and Mexicans who ride with the Comanche. The story flows smoothly from the “civilised” world of the Mississippi riverboat, via “authentic” outdoor ranch life, to the alternate, self-contained society of the Comancheros, with the developing West nicely detailed along the way. The final act runs out of steam but the point is to enjoy the ride, and Wayne certainly does, in his relaxed and professional Hawksian mode, sparring good-humouredly with the quietly-confident Gilbert. Balin and Persoff provide charismatic support and the half-scalped Lee Marvin tears apart his tiny role with the help of an odd topknot, a bottle of whiskey, and an energy sorely missed on his exit halfway through.

© Time Out Film Guide

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