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Friday, May 30, 2008

THE SCALPHUNTERS (1968)

An unexpectedly involving (and handsome) Western with a strong comic edge that easily survives Sydney Pollack ’s uneven megging thanks to a nifty triple reverse story (single-minded trapper keeps losing his winter’s catch to a new foe, but refuses to let it go) and its cast: Burt Lancaster, Shelley Winters, Telly Savales & Ossie Davis are all in excellent form. Davis, as a runaway slave passing himself off as a Comanche, has to advance a lot of serio-comic racial attitudes of the day, but as played out with a sly, but game Lancaster, they work things out without the expected patina of ‘60s liberal guilt. Instead, there’s a touch of Estragon & Vladimir in these two. (Does that make Shelly Winters Madame Godot?)

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