(directors: Arnold Laven/Sam Peckinpah; screenwriters: Sam Peckinpah/based on the novel The Dice of God by Hoffman Buney; cinematographer: James Wong Howe; editors: Melvin Shapiro/Ernst R. Rolf; music: Riz Ortolani; cast: Tom Tryon (Capt. Demas Harrod), Harve Presnell (Sol Rogers), Senta Berger (Lou Woddard), James Caan (Pvt. Anthony Dugan), Andrew Duggan (Gen. Frederick McCabe), Slim Pickens (Sgt. James Gregory), Peter Breck (Lt. Bunny Hodges), Jeanne Cooper (Mrs. Rachael McCabe), Michael Anderson Jr. (Pvt. Martin Hale); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Arthur Laven/Arthur Gardner/Jules Levy; (MGM) United Artists; 1965)

“The bloody climax will awaken those who might have snoozed off.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A fatalist Major Dundee like western co-directed by the film’s writer Sam Peckinpah(“Convoy”/”Ride The High Country”/”The Getaway). Peckinpah was replaced after starting the film by its producer Arthur Laven (“Sam Whiskey”). It’s based on the novel The Dice of God by Hoffman Buney. It tells of a politically ambitious frontier Cavalry commander, Gen. Frederick McCabe (Andrew Duggan), who in an act of sheer madness sacrifices his troops in battle to gain personal glory.

The subplot has Captain Harrod (Tom Tyron) and the frontier scout, Sol Rogers (Harve Presnell), vying for the attention of the sexpot frontier woman with a dark past, Lou Woodard (Senta Berger).

Laven is not a very good director and his tepid direction fails to get the most out out of the dramatic fireworks. Also the recycled comedy is familiar to standard western and didn’t work for me. But the photography of James Wong Howe is scintillating and keeps you glued to the screen. And the bloody climax will awaken those who might have snoozed off. The breath-taking battle scene, with massive deaths, has the Cavalry slaughtered by the Indians.