The Appaloosa (1966)

Universal Pictures presents:

The Appaloosa Opening Screens

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!

The Appaloosa Posters
The Appaloosa Posters

Southwest to Sonora
rode the lustful, the lawless … 
to live on the edge of violence!

The Appaloosa Posters 2
The Appaloosa Posters 2

The Land was big … 
the women were brazen …
and it took a special brand of man to tame them!

The Appaloosa Posters/Media
The Appaloosa Posters/Media
The Appaloosa Poster 3
The Appaloosa Poster 3

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 ProfessionalsNevada SmithEl Dorado,
Alvarez KellyDuel at DiabloThe ShootingNavajo 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.

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.

The Appaloosa - 1966

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 TimeThe 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 …

Audios Amigos

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 ?

Leone's Eyes ...

Eastwood, Van Cleef, Wallach, Bronson

Furie loves and knows how to use effective closeup shots.

In your face Amigo:

The Appaloosa - Close Ups

“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.”

Sydney J. Furie - Director

Sydney J. Furie – Director

The Appaloosa Grande … Amigos …

3 Amigos

Don’t be fooled by their smiles …

The Appaloosa - 2 amigos

3 amigos:
John Saxon, Emilio Fernandez, Alex Montoya

… these are not your friends.

Nothing frames the face like a sombrero …

The Appaloosa - Sombero 6

Emilio Fernandez

The Appaloosa - Sombero 8


“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.”

The Appaloosa - Saxon Sombrero 1

John Saxon

The Appaloosa - Saxon Sombrero 2

John Saxon

“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.”

The Appaloosa - Alex Montoya

Alex Montoya

The Appaloosa - Sombero 9

The Appaloosa – Alex Montoya

The Appaloosa - Emilio Fernandez

The Appaloosa – Emilio Fernandez

Et tu Brando …

Some of these scenes struck as Shakespearean …

The Appaloosa - Brando

“Amigos, Gringos, Compadres …“

The Appaloosa - Brando

“This was the noblest Gringo of them all.”

The Appaloosa - Brando

“To be, or not to be … “

The Appaloosa - Brando

“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind …”

The Appaloosa - Brando

“Alas, poor Pedro! I knew him … “

“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 …

Caballero Cuisine

Cantina Caballero

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.”

PulqeaholicsShameless Pulquaholics carousing in a Mexican street
(Possible Bandito on the left)

The Appaloosa …

 A Breed of Renown …

APPALOOSA HORSE, Appalosa horse image


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 Appaloosa - Brando

Brando with the Appaloosa – alas, one of the few good images in the movie.

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.


Nez Perce Indians with Appaloosa / 1895

5 thoughts on “The Appaloosa (1966)”

  1. *** Spoiler Alert!! If You Have Not Seen Appaloosa, and Plan to Watch It, Don’t Read Any Further Until You Have Watched It ***

    Now that you brought that to my attention, Zelwegger really didn’t do much of anything, did she? At first, it seemed to be setting up a love triangle, or Harris losing it in a jealous rage and going on a shooting spree. Neither one ever happened. He just seemed to meekly accept the fact she was a tramp, but he was determined to stay devoted to her and ignore her ways, even when they made it appear she was sneaking around and seeing his main enemy, Irons. They just kind of dropped it and nothing ever came of it except it prompted Viggo to shoot Irons and break up the partnership with his old friend. Harris took no crap from anyone except her. I guess she was just there for that purpose, but like you said, she took up a lot of time and added very little.

  2. I remember watching this on TV as a kid. The arm wrestling match with the scorpions really impressed me then because it was something different and not like the standard westerns I was used to seeing. Looking back, it seemed to have almost a Spaghetti Western feel to it.

    What can you say about Brando that has not already been said? I think John Saxon is good in westerns as well and am surprised he didn’t become a bigger star than he did. I liked him in Joe Kidd as well as many other movies of all genres.

    1. I recently watched ‘Appaloosa’ from 2008 , which has nothing to do with this movie despite the similar title. I was a little put off at first at what I considered stealing the title of a remembered favorite.

      In spite of that the movie really pulled me in and I really enjoyed it. In this case, Appaloosa was the name of a town that hired professional lawman Ed Harris and his deputy Viggo Mortensen to tame the lawless element in their town.

      Harris and Mortensen have a special chemistry between them and both are totally badass in this. Despite being a newer Western, it is done in the old classic western style. I highly recommend it to any true Western fan.

      1. To me, Renee Zelwegger seems to be awkwardly inserted and takes up quite a bit of time. I like Renee, but not sure she adds to things here? Otherwise. as you say, a pretty good straight up Western – badguys vs goodguys. Vito, Irons, and Harris – always good. Need to watch it again and see if looks different.

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