Director: Edwin Sherin
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Susan Clark, Frank Silvera, Jon Cypher, Richard Jordan, Barton Heyman, Hector Elizondo
More info: IMDb
Tagline: They tore his body. They buried his pride. But they forgot his old uniform, his Sharps rifle, and his Buffalo gun. Find Tanner, El Segundo, and the 16 others. And tell them Valdez is coming.
Plot: A Mexican-American sheriff must resort to violence against a powerful rancher in order to get just compensation for the pregnant Indian widow of a wrongly killed black man.
My rating: 8/10
Will I watch it again? Are you kidding me? It's Burt Freakin' Lancaster in badass mode!
All you really need to know is it's Burt Lancaster. If that's not enough, it's a gritty Western from 1971 based on a novel by Elmore "3:10 TO YUMA" Leonard! I can't help you if you need more than that. Lancaster is like an older, more laid back Terminator. He's good, he's tired and he's determined to get justice.
VALDEZ is one tough, violent Western. No too long after I first watched this I started this blog. I had also caught another great Lancaster Western called LAWMAN which he did right before this one. Months later I watched Lancaster in ULZANA'S RAID (1972), all of which he did in 1971 and '72. Not only are these outstanding Westerns and films in general but showcase Lancaster in roles that exemplify his quiet tough guy best. He can be a flashy action star like in the recently watched THE CRIMSON PIRATE (1952), but it's his reserved roles that show his mastery at acting. These are roles and films that I prefer.
I thoroughly enjoy this picture. The rich Southwestern US-like landscapes of Almeria, Spain, the sparse score by Charles Gross, the mean bastard in the villain, Frank Tanner (Cypher) and his henchmen and the "not sure how this is going to turn out just yet" ending make this a standout in a sea of Westerns, a genre that was nearing it's decades-long reign of popularity. It's so easy to say this but it's true, they don't make tough guy actors like Lancaster anymore. He, along with Bronson, Eastwood, Lee Marvin, Robert Shaw, et al, have all but died off. Fortunately we have films like these to remind us that there was a time that allowed and thrived upon actors that had something to offer in the way of testosterone and talent...instead of the current class of lightweights Hollywood offers up these days with their shaved chests and mascara. I can recall a time when having hair on your chest was evidence of manhood. Then came the 1980s, ten years before I got mine. I'm proud of what I've got...and they were, too.