Thursday, December 11, 2014

There Are Plenty Of Deserts To Lay Siege In

The Last of the Comanches is the Bogart movie Sahara, transported to the old West. Broderick Crawford plays a cavalry sergeant whose unit was almost entirely wiped out in a raid at the beginning of the film, led by Black Cloud. It's down to Crawford and 5 other men, with only two horses, trekking across the desert to try and reach a fort. Shortly into the trip, they come across a stagecoach headed to the now burned out town, and so the driver and passengers are drawn in as well. They also pick up a sort of untrustworthy guy who killed a cavalry officer in what he claims was self-defense. Lloyd Bridges plays one of Crawford's men, and he isn't buying that.

The ensemble is rounded out with a young Kiowa boy who escaped their pursuers just the other day. He's the equivalent of the French colonial army African soldier from Sahara, but also the Italian soldier that fellow had captured, and before the end, he winds up as the one who has to go to the fort and bring reinforcements. Both dad and I found that curious, considering how much hostility Crawford and his men had towards Little Knife, I'm not sure why they expected the commander of the fort to listen to the kid. Especially since time was of the essence, as they were under siege by a vastly numerically superior force.

We got some good laughs out of the movie. Their first attempt to replenish their water supplies goes downhill when the well is filled in and stocked with nice new rifles. So when they reach the old mission and find the well, we both joked that they would find more guns instead. One thing about the siege that was unusual was the tactics the Native Americans use. A lot of times in Westerns, they're relegated to that futile "riding around in circles and firing in the air" strategy. They do that in this film as well, but early on, they also dismount, and try a infantry charge. That was unexpected, though they eventually went back to riding around the mission in circles. The odd thing was why they didn't try more stealth. One guy was able to sneak in and run off all the stage horses. They couldn't hit a dang thing with rifles - Crawford scrambles out at one point to trigger a series of explosions, and well, waddle is more accurate than scramble, and the tree limb he hides behind wouldn't cover a third of him - but were quite effective with arrows. Seems like they could have taken Crawford up on his "water for guns" offer, and it wouldn't have hurt their odds much.

1 comment:

SallyP said...

I love Westerns, but I have to admit that it is a little ridiculous that a person can fire a rifle into the air...and hit and Indian on a fast horse 500 yards away.