Shalako (Edward Dmytryk, 1968)


(scherpschutter) #1

http://img15.imageshack.us/my.php?image=l123529006359269bea7281.jpg

I had not seen it in quite a while, and was surprised by the film’s brutality. Shot in the Almeria surroundings, Shalako doesn’t really feel like a spaghetti western, but it’s more violent and (especially) gory than most of them. There’s one scene including a necklace (you’ll recognize it when you see it) that is particularly gruesome. Without pretending that it’s a good film, I’d say it’s better than it’s reputed to be.

The premise is very nice: a company of European aristocrats are on a hunting party in New Mexico in the 1880’s. They’re travelling full equipage, including silver cutlery, vintage wines, butlers, maids, side-whiskers, frizzled moustaches and Countess Irina Lazaar (B.B. herself)… But then they’re threatened by hostile Apaches and duped by their treacherous guide, who’s after their jewelry (and Honor Blackman). Luckily there’s a U.S. army scout (007 himself) to settle things.

The action scenes are well-crafted and quite exciting, and although Connery is largely ineffective as the scout, the film is well-cast. Veteran actors Van Eyk and Hawkins are very convincing as, respectively, an arrogant and a tormented member of the European nobility, and both Honor Blackman and B.B. are perfectly believable as the high class tarts (with or without hearts) flirting with macho Sean and macho Stephen. Boyd is a standout as the double-crossing guide, Erik Sykes very funny as the butler. The problem is a meandering script that slows the film down considerably, especially during the second half. Edward Dmytrick’s direction isn’t very effective either. He was sixty at the time and probably not really interested in the project, but we would’ve expected more from the man who brought us Warlock and Broken Lance. The film is also marred by a rather abrupt conclusion and particularly silly theme song.

Not great, certainly not a classic, but worth a look if you’re in the mood for some tasty nastiness.

3/5


(Stanton) #2

Shalako is a failed film from a director, who had once stated not to have a great interest in westerns.
The story has had the potential for a very good and maybe even complex western, but this was probably one of these projects where everything went wrong which could went wrong.


(ENNIOO) #3

Some good action. Connery is O.K but never been a big fan of Connery. Agree re the song. Boyd was not bad.


(alk0) #4

Mediocre, Nice landscapes and good cast, but Connery basically sleepwalks through his role, film tends to be boring at times and the music would be more suitable for an old american western.


(p.pereira) #5

Bought this one yesterday, it is now available in Portugal through Studio Canal/Universal - Colecção Brigitte Bardot - with plenty language options. Don’t have great expectations though.


(Chris_Casey) #6

A marginally OK film. Like many have said, it is a bit boring. I agree with Stanton that this could have been a great Western–given the story. But, things just seemed to go wrong.
Not an awful film, but certainly not one worth raving about.


(Lord Brett) #7

I saw this a couple of years ago at a special screening of the original 70mm print used for the gala premiere with an introduction by theb producer, Ewan Lloyd.

I fell asleep and missed most of it!

Lloyd said he had great difficulty getting financiers to accept the casting of Connery, who they said was typecast as Bond - this was the film Connery made instead of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.


(El Topo) #8

Well the woman created by God goes west, but not too comfortable.
Average to say the best film, with cast and the story, Dmytrik could have done a lot better, but it seems that everyone here was in a hurry to finish the film. The plot goes pretty predictable, one of those “I told you so” movies, the acting with the exception of Boyd goes average to say the least from everyone in it, and Bardot was never known for her great acting ability skills and in movies where there’s the need to act, she really looks …strange, and in 68 she was not at her peak (of course her peak was very high), Connery not the cowboy type (most probably he was having second thoughts on leaving the Bond character), well to conclude a wrong cast in the main parts.
The director tried to follow the more classical western type with some modernity (meaning more violence) here and there, but the scenes are too long and boring dependable a lot on the soundtrack, it’s also full of stereotypes that in the right hands could be use to add some fun but not even that, at least he does a good use to the landscape, but that’s about it, he really couldn’t bring out the best of the film in almost all aspects of it.
I like some of his films The Mountain, Bluebeard, but not this one.

Some really violent scenes like the one of the necklace down the throat. Now I know why Indians do not appear more in SW, if that was the nastiest thing they did to helpless woman, any extra in the film from Almeria would know what to do.

Amazing how even in the hardest condition, the woman’s always seem to have an immaculate make-up and hairstyle, like Bardot near the spring taking a bath; anyway that was something for Millian hands not Connery with a Richard Widmark dressing style.

Notice that they did missed a lot of shots, like how really it should be, one point for a more real feeling.

The best line in the all film was the one of the Presidential and Royal suite, a good one indeed.

And they have to kill the butler in the end; if it was to kill the guy they could have done it in the beginning, that was real cruel ;D.


(The Man With a Name) #9

I love Shalako. One of my favourite non-spaghettis and probably my favourite British western. The film is rather violent. I’ve always been surprised by the PG certificate. You’d think it would have earned an 18/X certificate back in the day for the necklace scene alone!


(scherpschutter) #10

Always surprised me as well. Most spaghetti westerns had an 18 rating where i live, so when they were first released, i wasn’t able to see them, but I saw shalako in cinema upon its initial release (i still remmeber that very well), so it must have had a 14 rating. When I rewatched the movie a couple of decades later, I noticed it was more violent than most spaghettis

Btw: I wrote a review of it for SWDB (because it’s a eurowestern):

[size=12pt]http://www.spaghetti-western.net/index.php/Shalako_Review[/size]


(The Man With a Name) #11

I’ve had the tape since I was four. :stuck_out_tongue: This is one of the few films I prefer to watch in fullscreen. I think it’s just because I’m so used to watching it on VHS. I only just got the DVD.


(ENNIOO) #12

That is early !


(The Man With a Name) #13

Indeed. I’ve grown up with these films. Anyone who thought it was just a childhood phase for me was mistaken.


(scherpschutter) #14

The were no tapes when I was four.
There was no film called Shalako either.


(The Man With a Name) #15

Decided to watch Shalako again since it’s been a while. Still very enjoyable for me. Only thing that puzzles me every time is why Shalako and Irina don’t bother helping Wells. The two of them could have easily taken the weight off and prevented the spear going through him. And even if he was going to die anyway, why let him die such a horrible death? Makes Shalako seem like a right psycho.


(Asa) #16

There was just you, the cinématographe and the Lumiere brothers.

:slight_smile:


(Toscano) #17

I think I will take time off from packing boxes, to try and answer…but, please, don’t immediately expect a reply…I’ve got to get back to brown b…y tape and boxes…

I’ve always liked ‘Shalako’, having seen it at the cinema, when I was a wee nipper.

Several possible reasons for why they didn’t help ‘Wells’…

  1. The spear-head had penetrated so far into his back, that Shalako knew, that, to remove it, would cause more damage, and a heckava lot more pain for the dying man…

  2. Even if Shalako knew that Wells was going to die, would Shalako be the kind of man to put a bullet through another man’s head…in my opinion, yes, but that’s another theory.

  3. In the context of film-making, it made for a great close-up of a spear-head tearing through a man’s chest…which - in film terms - sets the scene for the action to come…

Those are just my thoughts…

In Shalako, I recall that there were a few scenes filmed simply for cinematic effect, including the death of Honor Blackman (jewellery down the throat)…

By the way, the music for ‘Shalako’ is quite interesting…
The main vocal (which I like, but many people hate), is written by Jim Dale (Carry On films); and the sweeping orchestral score is performed by Robert Farnon (who was a very distinguished British composer), and composed the iconic main theme to BBC.1’s ‘Colditz’ - which was shown in the 1970’s.


(scherpschutter) #18

I saw Shalako in cinema, I think I was 13 or 14 years old. It was the second western I saw in cinema (the first was MacKenna’s Gold)


(Toscano) #19

Sherpschutter…

Same here…as well as seeing Shalako, at the cinema, I also - as child - watched MacKennas Gold, at the cinema.

The good old days…when the price of a cinema ticket bought you more that the main feature, mobile phones ringing, and loud-mouths voicing their opinion…


(scherpschutter) #20

The usually programmed these kind of western during the holidays (Christmas, Eastern, mid-summer)
I remember cinemas filled with guys of my age, but most of them rather disciplined. I remember very few incidents. None with cell phones of course, most of them involved people (usually adults) who refused to put out their cigarettes. Good old days, yes.