Ulzana's Raid (Robert Aldrich, 1972)

What's it about? Army scout McIntosh (Burt Lancaster) leads a troop of US cavalry into hostile territory on the trail of an Apache war party, led by the fearsome Ulzana. It's a western, in case you hadn't guessed.

Is it any good? Pretty solid fare. It's a slight story, but it moves along well to an exciting shootout climax, alternating between moments of gritty violence and quieter scenes where the characters ponder on the value of their mission and the motives of their enemy. As with most revisionist Westerns, there's a blurring of the moral boundaries between the 'good' guys and the 'bad', which sets it apart from traditional Cowboys & Indians films. This lends the film some balance and delivers something more downbeat than old-fashioned yee-haw Hollywood oaters.  There's also a deliberate Vietnam allegory to be read in the story of US troops taking on a dangerous adversary on their home turf in a pointless conflict. So it's a bit more complex than the slight story woudl suggest.

What does the Fonz think? Worth a watch if it pops up on TV some night.

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