SHALAKO (director: Edward Dmytryk; screenwriter: from the novel by Louis L’Amour/Clarke Reynolds/J.J. Griffith/Hal Hopper/Scot Finch; cinematographer: Ted Moore; editor: Bill Blunden; music: Robert Farnon; cast: Sean Connery (Shalako), Brigitte Bardot (Countess Irina Lazaar), Stephen Boyd (Bosky Fulton), Jack Hawkins (Sir Charles Daggett), Peter Van Eyck (Baron Frederick Von Hallstaff), Honor Blackman (Lady Julia Daggett), Woody Strode (Chato, Apache chief), Eric Sykes (Mako), Alexander Knox (Sen. Henry Clarke), Valerie French (Elena Clarke), Eric Sykes (Mako), Julian Mateos (Rojas), Rodd Redwing (Chato’s father); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Sean Lloyd; CBS Fox Video; 1968-UK)
“At least the premise was cute.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Edward Dmytryk (“Cornered”/”Warlock”/”The Falcon Strikes Back”) helms this off-beat British Western set in the New Mexico of the 1870s, but shot in Spain. It had a few good moments before degenerating into the ridiculous. If it stuck to camp it could have been fun, but it veered off into spaghetti western territory and got all tangled up in some sicko violent scenes.
It’s taken from the novel by Louis L’Amour and adapted to the screen by Clarke Reynolds, J.J. Griffith, Hal Hopper and Scot Finch.
A group of arrogant European aristocrats are on a hunting safari in New Mexico, hoping to catch wild sheep. They’re led by the obstinate and bossy German Baron Frederick Von Hallstaff, who is with his fiancé Countess Irina Lazaar (Brigitte Bardot). The expedition was arranged by the pompous Sir Charles Daggett (Jack Hawkins) and his smarmy wife Lady Julia Daggett (Honor Blackman), who are secretly facing critical financial woes and have ulterior motives for the trip. Also along are the unlikable American Senator Henry Clarke (Alexander Knox) and his wife Elena (Valerie French). The European servants are led by Mako (Eric Sykes), and the party has hired as a hunting guide the bumbling and shifty American Bosky Fulton (Stephen Boyd).
When Irina wanders into the desert, Apaches attack. Her escort is tortured to death but ex-army colonel Shalako (Sean Connery) saves her by killing a couple of the Apaches. He’s been sent by the cavalry to tell the hunting party they’re on an Indian reservation and there’s a treaty that no white men can enter the land nor can the army. But the thick-headed aristocrats refuse to listen to Shako’s warning to leave at once, too dumb to comprehend that the Apache chief Chato (Woody Strode) will really attack in the morning if they’re not gone. Shalako rides to tell the cavalry, to see if they will help. When the hunting party is still around in the morning, Bosky and gang double-cross them by robbing their horses, jewelry, water and taking along to Mexico Sir Charles’ wife when she jilts him. Shalako returns without the soldiers and heroically saves the party from complete annihilation.
The most absurd scene has the aristocrats elegantly dining in the bleak desert while served by a butler, dressed to the gills, using crystal goblets and eating fancy food. Other funny scenes have Bardot toting a gun, and proving she’s a looker but a long way from being an actress. Connery is a fine actor, but was miscast even if he gave an enthusiastic performance. As expected, Bardot becomes Connery’s love interest. Too bad there were no sparks between them. At least the premise was cute.
REVIEWED ON 3/30/2007 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ