After months of owning it, I finally watched Captain Apache last night. And here is my take on it -
"Ah aha aha ahaaaa - they call him Captain Apache".
“Well any film that provides you with an opportunity to hear Lee Van Cleef singing not just once, but twice has got to be worth a viewing” I thought to myself. “I’m sure it can’t be as bad as I’ve been told”. Well in truth it IS that bad. But it doesn’t make it unwatchable! Lee Van Cleef plays an Apache Captain within the Army that is sent to investigate the murder of a Commissioner, and discover the meaning of the dying man’s last words “April Morning”.
It plays like a murder mystery in a western setting, with numerous characters introduced throughout that appear to have heard the phrase “April Morning”, but are either attempting to solve the riddle themselves, or are shot before they can speak. These include gunrunner Griffin (Stuart Whitman), the blonde temptress Maude (Caroll Baker) and the equally teasing Rosita (Elisa Montes). And from a plot perspective, that is pretty much it (well, without solving the mystery that is!). Yes, it sounds very simple, but in actual fact the story is quite convoluted.
The soundtrack is hysterical - the title track in particular being so bad that you just love it - with Lee Van Cleef narrating to a tune so catchy that it would put professional purveyors of pop to shame! And you still get his rendition “April Morning” at the end of the film to look forward to.
Whilst it is quite poor Spaghetti Western fare, and a perfect example of the deterioration of the genre during the seventies, it does have three main factors that make it quite watchable :
1 - Lee Van Cleef himself - although this is a real LVC by numbers effort, the man has a screen presence that can rescue even the worst of films.
2 - The afore-mentioned theme tune.
3 - Caroll Baker and Elisa Montes (thats just the male hormones working! And anyway ladies, you get the bonus of a near naked Lee Van Cleef, so no accusing me of gawping!).
Aside from this, there are some other really good moments (Captain Apache insulting the two twins, the death of the Mexican General (played by Jose Bodalo) and a handful of other scenes that I chuckled at at the time but have since left my mind). At times the editing between scenes was quite poor (at one point jumping from Captain Apache in bed with Maude, to them discovering the hanging body of the key witness). Well hung!
Don’t let me put you off watching it, because it is an example of a film being so bad its good. I would never have imagined however that Lee Van Cleef crooning would be the highlight of a film!