(director: Robert Mulligan; screenwriters: Alvin Sargent, Wendell Mayes; cinematographer: Charles Lang; editor: Aaron Stell; music: Fred Karlin; cast: Gregory Peck (Sam Varner), Eva Marie Saint (Sarah Carver), Robert Forster (Nick Tana), Noland Clay (Boy), Frank Silvera (Major), Russell Thorson (Ned), Nathaniel Narcisco (Salvaje); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Alan J. Pakula;Warner Home Video (National General Pictures); 1968)

Talkative and thoughtful Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Talkative and thoughtful Western set in the Old West of 1881, but despite an adequate Gregory Peck performance the film falls flat. The major blame for pic bombing is director Robert Mulligan(“Up The Down Staircase”/”Summer of ’42“/”To Kill a Mockingbird“) is good at the psychological parts when shooting indoors but is out of his element in the outdoor action sequences. The dull screenplay by Alvin Sargent and adaptation by Wendell Mayes is of no help, as things move too slowly for this genre. The film’s redeeming feature is the beautiful Panavision landscape by Charles Lang.

Gregory Peck is the stalwart army scout Sam Varner, nearing retirement, who agrees to escort the white woman Sarah Carver (Eva Marie Saint) to the railroad station after his army patrol rescues her from captivity by a rogue group of Apaches in Arizona. Sarah plans on returning to New Mexico. Sam also plans to live in New Mexico on his small ranch he bought for retirement. She also takes along her 10-year-old halfbreed son (Noland Clay) she had while held captive. Unfortunately the boy’s father, Salvaje (Nathaniel Narcisco), refuses to let the boy go peacefully and we got a situation whereby Sam volunteers to take Sarah all the way to New Mexico. They travel by train and wagon to his ranch. Later when he discovers Sarah was kidnapped from his ranch, Sam and his hired hand (Russell Thorson) go after Sarah and Salvaje. They find her unconscious on the trail. It concludes with a life-and-death fight between the chief and the army vet.

REVIEWED ON 12/19/2015 GRADE: C+