WAR PAINT

WAR PAINT (1953)

Running Time: 89 mins.                      Rating: xx Stars/5 Stars

MPAA Rating: NR

Director: Lesley Selander

Genre: Western

Country: USA

Language: English

Distributor: United Artists

Cast: Robert Stack, Joan Taylor, Charles McGraw, Keith Larsen, Peter Graves, Paul Richards, John Doucette

A sub-sub genre then, the western/cavalry/patrol picture.

A hot, dusty, situation-western filmed in the oven like alkali desert of Death Valley. Not really very good, it’s a variation on the “Lost Patrol” theme. It does have a thing in showing a remarkable variety of gun battles from cover. It’s almost like a stock shot catalogue of Winchester fights. There’s some excellent overwrought character acting here. Charles McGraw is at his most stalwart and he’s in fine voice here too – tough and gravelly. Paul Richards – I never realized he was so short! is the ripest of all and mercifully dies early. John Doucette has a different role here as a Polish immigrant who left Poland because they wanted to put him in the army. Peter Graves gets to try the villain thing before STALAG 17.

Actually my first thought when I saw the picture was to complain to myself – When are they going to show a cavalry patrol with a remuda (the cavalry took several horses per soldier so they could switch horses on long rides), a chuck wagon, a water tank (one may ration water for the men but cannot stint on water for the horses. Always remember, the cavalry is limited by what the horses can and cannot do and since horses can’t forage in the desert they need to bring along grain too – enough for 40 horses or more.) and a wagonload of ammunition? They always seem to be set-up for what my old German producer used to call “ein kleine schpatzierung” and not a journey of two weeks through the desert. I didn’t realize that the whole picture would be one long, long patrol. A sub-sub genre then, the western/cavalry/patrol picture.

If there is any irony here it’s that the Indian who resisted was right. The White Man’s Peace was merely temporary, a stratagem used on the way to the White Man taking everything. A professionally made second feature. A good period piece, interesting only to the specialist.

PS. For this Martin Berkeley gave up over a hundred names during the blacklist period?

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