Ulzana's Raid (1972)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Cavalry Film, Indian Western  |   Release Date - Oct 18, 1972 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - R
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One of Burt Lancaster's last great Westerns, Robert Aldrich's Ulzana's Raid (1972) is a tough, searing entrant in the Vietnam cycle of revisionist oaters. With Alan Sharp's script eschewing most of the '60s-'70s sentimentality about the beleaguered Native American, Aldrich austerely and forcefully reveals the potential brutality, as well as honorable intentions, lurking on both sides, as the oft-unseen Ulzana goes on his terrifying rampage. Bruce Davison's pious officer, DeBuin, is a potent index of white naïveté regarding Native American resistance and guerilla tactics, but it is Lancaster's pragmatic, aging scout McIntosh who most powerfully evokes the utter futility and tragedy of the unending conflict between white colonizers and non-white Others. Inspired by the film's Vietnam War resonance and a world view articulated by McIntosh akin to his own, Lancaster's performance was hailed as one of the greatest of his career; critics praised the film's thematic timeliness and rigorous craft. Its unsparing view of the archetypal Western struggle, however, consigned Ulzana's Raid to box-office oblivion.