It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Edward Dmytryk's "Shalako" is a disappointment from this veteran action director, whose recent "Anzio" was a cut above most war epics. This time Dmytryk dissipates the tension, despite the presence in his cast of two formidable symbols of one thing or another: Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot.
The story shows definite signs of having been inspired, if that is the word, by Paul Newman's "Hombre" (1967). Both films deal with experienced Westerners who get stuck with the job of guiding a bunch of tenderfoots to safety. But "Hombre" showed Newman in a ticklish moral dilemma. A white man raised by Indians, he had become one himself. Why should he save the very settlers who were breaking treaties and ravaging tribal homelands? Connery's situation is simpler: He saves a European aristocrat's hunting party, I guess, simply because he's after Brigitte Bardot.
The plot, once it's introduced, turns out to be pretty unoriginal. There's even a specific twist stolen from "Hombre": The young wife of one of the older members of the party decides to leave her husband for the desperado who's robbing them. In "Hombre," something was made of this; in "Shalako," nothing. Indeed, all problems are solved at the level of action, and Dmytryk avoids the opportunity to develop his characters more deeply.
That would be good if the action was better, but it isn't. A sequence near the beginning shows Miss Bardot in a depression in the earth, fighting off several Indians who surround her. In the way the scene is arranged and photographed, it looks surprisingly like a scene in "Anzio," where Robert Mitchum was fighting off Nazis instead of Indians.
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