Apache (1954)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Indian Western, Revisionist Western  |   Release Date - Jul 9, 1954 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

Another 1950s pro-Indian Western featuring Caucasian actors in brown body paint speaking pidgin "Native," Apache nevertheless manages to dispense more than the standard revisionist bromides. Showcasing his energetic style, director Robert Aldrich doesn't stint on the violence perpetrated by either the whites or by star Burt Lancaster's athletic blue-eyed brave Massai, while Massai's rough handling of Jean Peters' Nalinle makes him tough to admire. Nevertheless, Massai's trip from Florida to his ancestral lands early in the film concisely and potently sums up the ruinous spread of white "civilization" across indigenous tribal territory, turning him into a Machiavellian hero saved by the agrarian ideal and Nalinle's familiar instincts. As Aldrich figured, that salvation rings jarringly false, but the powers that be overruled the relatively inexperienced movie director's artistically sound yet commercially difficult instincts. Aldrich's first collaboration with producer/star Lancaster, Apache was also the director's first hit and the beginning of Lancaster's fruitful run as a Western action hero. According to historical accounts, the actual Massai's eyes really were a Lancasterian azure.