The Great Sioux Massacre
The Great Sioux Massacre
A look at what happened to Custer and his troops at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Custer, an outspoken believer in fair treatment for the Indians, is ousted from his post and forced into retirement. Fueled by ambition when a senator convinces him to run for president, Custer decides to upstage General Terry at Little Big Horn.
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February 02, 2019 at 12:37 PM
One movie--Two movies???
About the only redeeming quality is Joseph Cotton and, in this instance, that is not saying a lot.
But what really gets me is: About 30-40 minutes of this film is footage from another western made 11 years earlier--"Sitting Bull (1954)." In this movie, the Indians ride down on Custer from what could be northern California Sierra Nevada's or even somewhere in South Dakota while the 7th cavalry is riding through the arroyo's of southern New Mexico or western Arizona and they combine the footage from both films to make it look like they are fighting one another. The footage from Sitting Bull is also used in many things such as the escape from the stockade by the Indians and also various scenes when the Indians are shot and fall off their horses. One Indian, for instance, falls off his horse and practically rolls right into the camera on Sitting Bull and that same Indian, on the same horse, falls off again in this movie and practically rolls right into the camera. I have them on video back to back and am able to view them so it makes it really easy to detect the same scenes from the earlier movie being used.
It's cheap and shoddy!
A travesty of a film, and one in which the usually competent Philip Carey and Joseph Cotton disappoint, though at least the latter can have claimed he was playing an often-drunken Major Reno. Darren McGavin stomps and jerks around as "Captain Bill Benton", so-called presumably because there is little relation with the real-life Captain Benteen. "Benton" is hazed by Reno, is keen on his daughter, strikes Custer, is captured/rescued by the Indians on his way to court-martial, is rescued again (this time by the cavalry), rides to warn Custer of the Indians' strength and is reinstated to lead his men at the fateful battle.
Individuals change their characters as the film progresses: Custer switches from idealism and anger at governmental corruption to political ambition; Reno evolves from drunk to semi-hero, in between resenting command of the 7th being offered to Benton (both then becoming self-deprecatory about their ability to lead); and the scout Dakota suddenly switches from hating and killing Indians to saving them (and when he deserts he is shot making a mad dash from the cavalry bivouac rather than slip away when scouting ahead of the column). Some of the minor actors appear to be waiting for cues or direction, and riders shot off their horses fall to the ground as safely as possible. Often the dialogue is artificial: "I shall see you trouble my existence no longer," rasps Custer to Reno at one point.
The film starts and finishes with the sort of completely unrealistic military court hearing that mars several Westerns; in this case the evidence comes entirely from Benton, with no other witnesses being called.
The Battle of the Little Big Horn isn't too bad but apparently the footage was borrowed from "Sitting Bull" made ten years earlier. Certainly when the main characters are on screen they appear to be accompanied by only a handful of men.
By 1965 Hollywood should have been able to do better than this.
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Chronic attempt to retell Custer's Last Stand
A massacre indeed. A lot of it seems to have been cannibalised from much better (and certainly bigger budget) efforts; an expert on Westerns could soon tell you exactly which ones. Joseph Cotten is supposed to be playing a drunk, but one begins to wonder where acting ended and reality started. Darren McGavin and Philip Carey (as Custer) are just awful. The Indians are strictly of the 'Carry On Cowboy' variety, and one almost wished Sid James & Charles Hawtrey to appear in order to relieve the tedium of the proceedings. Any intention of presenting the Sixties 'Red Indians' as 21st Century 'Native Americans,' and any attempt to portray Custer's complicated character, are defeated by the awful script and poor technical standards. This is not Custer's Last Stand at all, but a very lumpy custard that is impossible to swallow.