Universal Pictures presents:
The Appaloosa (1966)
(also known as Southwest to Sonora)
Between the Hunters and the Hunted …
the Wanton and the Wanted …
lies the violent land …
Southwest to Sonora!
Southwest to Sonora
rode the lustful, the lawless …
to live on the edge of violence!
The Land was big …
the women were brazen …
and it took a special brand of man to tame them!
When you do a search on Google for ‘Western Movies of 1966′ here is what you will likely find:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Professionals, Nevada Smith, El Dorado,
Alvarez Kelly, Duel at Diablo, The Shooting, Navajo Joe,
… and a few others …
A few Western Classics mixed in with a few clunkers. But, all in all, a pretty impressive year for Westerns.
Yet on most of these lists there is one glaring omission:
The Appaloosa a a good Western. It is well directed by Sydney J. Furie
– has excellent Cinematography – and it has Brando and Saxon.
It also contains one of the most famous and powerful scenes in Western Film:
The famous scorpion arm wrestling scene with the between Saxon and Brando.
I am at a loss to figure out why this movie seems to have been so overlooked?
Was there a big ‘hate on’ for Brando at the time?
Or was it a case of merely being overshadowed by two of the
Greatest Western Classics of All Time: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,
and The Professionals?
I hope to see it eventually take it’s rightful place.
the ecstasy of gold / ennio morricone
Very (un)occasionally I look over My Favorite Pages (above). I don’t do this often because some of them were created years ago now – and they’re awful. Then I’m forced to fix ’em up. Back then I didn’t know how to operate WordPress very well – or edit images – and a few dozen other things. I’m no genius now, but I’ve gotten better. Such is the case of The Appoloosa (1966) starring Marlon Brando. My Page was awful. I consider this a great Western so it deserves much better treatment. Therefore, I’ve now beefed the Page up – included a bunch of stuff from my other posts and so on. Some images should still be re-worked, but t’s almost worth a look now.
The Appoloosa really is a great Western with several excellent scenes – some Classic.
Check out these two scenes: including the famous Scorpion Arm Wrestling scene:
This scene has a couple of stunning qualities. The first quality is that it has NO music. Did you notice that? It’s very rare for any film maker to exclude music from any scene of impact. But it works well here.
The other thing is Director Sydney Furie’s superb use of close up shots – something he employed to great effect throughout the film.
Furie lets the setting, the lighting, the composition, the dialogue, the Actors, and the close-ups deliver the impact. The effect is one of the greatest scenes in Western Movie history.
Likewise for this bit of film magic …
The Appaloosa … American Spaghetti …
Close Up and Personal
Director Sergio Leone didn’t invent Close-Up shots, but he certainly was influential in their use. This is partly why The Appaloosa is often referred to as the “American Spaghetti Western” – as Director Sidney J. Furie uses close-ups extensively. The movie was also made during the height of Spaghetti Western popularity (1966) and has more than it’s share of Mexican banditos.
Leone’s Eyes … guess who ?
Eastwood, Van Cleef, Wallach, Bronson
Furie loves and knows how to use effective closeup shots.
In your face Amigo:
“The truth is, whether your film is about the great mythological character you have to do right, or it’s a little movie that nobody ever heard of, you still approach it like it’s the most important thing in the world. But failing goes with the territory. Filmmakers are like gunslingers, and you don’t win every duel.”
The Appaloosa Grande … Amigos …
Don’t be fooled by their smiles …
… these are not your friends.
Nothing frames the face like a sombrero …
“There’s a line in the picture where he snarls, ‘Nobody tells me what to do.’ That’s exactly how I’ve felt all my life.”
“There certainly have been a lot of changes, although they come in such gradations that most people have either forgotten, or, if they’re too young, they never knew about them in the first place.”
Et tu Brando …
Some of these scenes struck as Shakespearean …
“I have decided to tell the story of my life as best I can, so that my children can separate the truth from the myths that others have created about me, as myths are created about everyone swept up in the turbulent and distorting maelstrom of celebrity in our culture.” ― Marlon Brando, Songs My Mother Taught Me
Pulque … a Gringo favorite …
In The Appaloosa Brando ingests a little Pulque (a repulsive sounding brew)
in a small Mexican cantina – obviously frequented by Mexican banditos (aren’t they all?).
But he smarts his way out of a potential fracus with some nice double talk
… then rides on.
MFW: Pulque – in it’s several variations is actually said to have some medicinal qualities – with or without flies.
Excert from “Tequila’s mystical ancestor, pulque, produced since Aztec times”:
“Pulque is like beer – it has a low alcohol content, about 4-8%, but also contains vegetable proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins, so it also acts as a nutritional supplement in many communities.
Tequila’s predecessor, pulque, was made from as many as six types of agave grown in the Mexican highlands … Pulque is one of about 30 different alcoholic beverages made from agave in Mexico – many of which are still made regionally, although seldom available commercially. Pulque has remained essential to diet in the central highlands of Mexico since pre-Aztec times.”
The Appaloosa …
A Breed of Renown …
Strangely, in The Appaloosa we don’t get to see the Appaloosa pony all that much
– the movie is not really about the horse.
But I still wish they had shown him more. Truly a beautiful animal.
The pony in the movie was named Rojo.
Curiously enough, the recent film Appaloosa (2008) starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen also has nothing to do with a horse either. One wonders if the title isn’t a nod to The Appaloosa.
The history of the Appaloosa Horse breed is much too involved to put here, but the Nez Perce Indians were responsible for the North American breed.