Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Charlton Heston Week: Arrowhead

Hey boys and girls and welcome to Day 2 Charlton Heston Week.  Journey with me through the halls of yesteryear… The year is 1953 and Heston is all of 30, rugged, good smile and apparently made the ladies swoon…and no damn dirty apes was shot in the making of this Western, so gather around the campfire, dig into the penny candy and let me spin you a yarn.   This is Arrowhead.

Actually Jack, no one craps bigger than me.

Spoilers don’t like horses, Sergeant. They’ll ride ‘em until they drop, kill ‘em and eat ‘em and then steal some more.

Let me be succinct, if you are of Native American blood line and or have a fondness for the culture then you shall not care for the portrayal of the Apaches in this movie.   That being said on with the show.   Stationed at Fort Clark, The US cavalry is to attempt peace talks with the Apache tribes and convince them to move from Texas to Florida where they will be place on reservations.  Maybe if it had a few lounge acts and a golf course but seems a bit off to me.  Lead scout Ed Bannon (Charlton Heston of The President’s Lady, Pony Express, The Ten Commandments, The Buccaneer, Soylent Green and Airport 1975) who raised by the Apaches knows how they think, act and fight.  He is a man caught between two worlds and neither really wants anything to do with him.   His commanding officer ignores his warnings on the incoming Apaches and it is best to just mow them down.   The colonel ignores him and follows his orders to his unfortunate death.   Next time listen to the top billed actor!!!

Aw Chuck she just wants a man with a slow hand.

Cavalry Captain Bill North (Brian Keith of Desert Hell, Sierra Baron, Ten Who Dared, The Raiders, Hooper and Hardcastle and McCormick) is about his only friend and their relationship is rocky at best. 
Bannon takes delight in the sweetheart that got away, Lela Wilson (Mary Sinclair of Studio One in Hollywood, Woman with a Past and Room to Move) is torn between her affection for Bannon and what would the townsfolk say of her being with this “Half-Breed”.  Yes that particular compound word makes its way a lot and yes I winced when I hear it.

Bannon’s closer…companion is Nita (Katy Jurado of High Noon, One-Eyed Jacks, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid and Under the Volcano), a Mexcian Apache lovely that has her eye on Bannon  and his pal Chief Chief Chattez (Frank DeKova of The Ten Commandments, F Troop, Heavy Traffic and The Mechanic) who acts as aide and fellow scout.  Word is spread throughout the fort that the Elder chief’s son Toriano (Jack Palance of Shane, The Barbarians, The Mongols, Contempt, City Slickers and Batman) has returned from an law school learning the White eyes laws (you know the ones that allowed whites to own blacks, shoot Mexicans and eradicate several Native American tribes) and he feels it is time to act and not simply react.  

NRA Chapter meeting goes awry!

Now I have just a few tidbits about this film.  It is a dark storyline that shows two sides of the conflicts.  We really do not have any heroes here but then again we really do not have villains either.   Betrayal, sneakiness and underhanded plays are the name of the game and Keith, Heston and Palance are all a bunch of barrel chested, low vocal badasses in this film.  That is hard labor man muscle.
Spherical 35mm was the order of the shoot and only two different locations were needed for the entire film so the location scout was done in no time.  The foley artist (sound effects man) even gave us a few Wilhelm screams (film and TV stock sound effect from the 1951 film Distant Drums) beloved by Western, Action and Sci-fi and here I thought it was the Nazi and Stormtrooper death rattle.