Sound: C Extras: D Film: C-
Just before The Western went into its final phase of
transitions before its demise, films were still being made in the genre that
was vilifying Native American in the most outrageous ways. Arrowhead was released in 1953, opens
with the pretense of being solid history, but lands up being as accurate as
D.W. Griffith’s Birth Of A Nation form 1915. The Apaches, especially tarnished in this kind of revisionist
campaign, are led by an especially “clever” leader Toriano played by Jack
Palance. He takes on the “good guy”
Cowboys headed by Charlton Heston as Bannon.
Of course, the whole film is a lie and revision of what
actually happened, but this was a time when just having a good cast, production
values, and pacing was more important because this was “just a movie” for
“entertainment” purposes. However, we
know (and most always knew) that it really becomes propaganda to negate the
truth, the genocide of a people in this case.
No film is absent an ideology, no matter what someone tells you. With that said, is the film still
watchable. Well, no really.
Despite some competent editing and booklike narrative, the
film still drags and the idea of the simple good/bad dichotomy is a problem to
begin with, let alone who it is assigned to.
The more I kept watching, the more I kept thinking how brilliant John
Ford’s The Searchers was three years later, no doubt a response to this
film and the many films like it. That
is it script-adapted by directed by Rawhide and Gunsmoke creator
Charles Marquis Warren speaks volume about the formula and how that become a
trap, a way to do a rolling revisionist history. Some would say Fascist, I would just say obvious and shallow. It is competent late Classical Hollywood
product, extending to how it was shot.
The full frame 1.33 X 1 image was originally released in
three-strip Technicolor and shot by Ray Rennahan, A.S.C., which adds to the
phoniness when taking it as a historical piece in this case (sets counted or not)
and is the highlight of the film if it has one. The print itself is not always color consistent, but the use of
color is interesting, making a viewing more bearable by default. Paul Sawell’s music is much more typical and
as average as the weak Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono of the original theatrical mono
sound. There are no extras, but then
there is nothing more to say about this film.
It is what it is and it is no surprise it has been forgotten.
- Nicholas Sheffo