Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Last Hunt (1956)

Director: Richard Brooks

Writers: Milton Loft, Richard Brooks

Composer: Daniele Amfitheatrof

Starring: Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Lloyd Nolan, Debra Paget, Russ Tamblyn, Constance Ford, Joe De Santis, Ainslie Pryor, Ralph Moody, Fred Graham, Ed Lonehill

More info: IMDb


Plot: Set in the early 1880s, this is the story of one of the last buffalo hunts in the Northwest. Sandy McKinzie is tired of hunting buffalo, and tired of killing-Charley on the other hand relishes the hunt and enjoys killing buffalo and Indians. When Charley kills an Indian raiding party, and takes their squaw as his own, tension develops between the two hunters, and matters will only be settled in a showdown.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

Talk about a mature Western!  Wow!  The first half of this is harsh, heavy and cynical and all in a good, cinematic way.  Sandy (Granger) is done with the buffalo hunting trade.  After years of death he's finished but he comes back for one last time.  Charlie (Taylor) loves it.  He's a killer and he gets off on it in a way.  He's also not a moral man but he feels justified. These two guys are at odds the entire time and it's wonderful to see how well they worked together.  Granger does fine but this is really Taylor's show and he's fantastic.  Lloyd Nolan is also wonderful as Sandy's friend, Woodfoot.  He plays a wise old guy but not like you see in most Westerns.  This guy is solid, strong, smart and good but he's just getting on in his years is all.  That's a refreshing change of pace for this type of character.  It's a mature story (with a great and different ending) and a mature film that plays against the standard Western films of the era.  This is nearly 60 years old and it packs a wallop.  If you're like me and can't bear to see animals killed, you're gonna have a tough time with this one.  One thing that makes this feel more authentic is that a lot of buffalo are killed on film but it wasn't done just to make the picture.  They were killed as they sometimes do to thin the heard at Badlands National Park.  They were going to be shot anyway, the filmmakers just made sure to get it on film and work it in realistically.  Still, it's painful to watch these animals go down for any reason other than survival.  I made it through the other end alright.  It's a great film for a lot of reasons and it shouldn't be overlooked because of only one.

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