The Scalphunters (1968)

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    • The Scalphunters (1968)




      Plot Summary
      Trapper Joe is on his way to the town with all of his gain of hides of the last winter.
      However a group of Indians stops him and takes all of his hides,
      leaving him the escaped slave Joseph instead.
      But Joe has no use for Joseph and is determined to get his property back and follows them.
      Before he can do anything, the Indians are raided themselves
      by a group of scalphunters under the greedy Howie.
      Not only the hides, but also Joseph falls into their hands.
      Now Joe follows them alone and tries to trick the numerical superior group out of his hides.
      Written by Tom Zoerner

      Burt Lancaster ... Joe Bass
      Shelley Winters ... Kate
      Telly Savalas ... Jim Howie
      Ossie Davis ... Joseph Lee
      Dabney Coleman ... Jed
      Paul Picerni ... Frank
      Dan Vadis ... Yuma
      Armando Silvestre ... Two Crows
      Nick Cravat ... Yancy
      Tony Epper ... Scalphunter
      Chuck Roberson ... Scalphunter
      John Epper ... Scalphunter
      Jack Williams ... Scalphunter
      and many more...

      Sydney Pollack

      Writing Credits
      William W. Norton ... (written by) (as William Norton)

      Arthur Gardner ... producer
      Arnold Laven ... producer
      Jules V. Levy ... producer (as Jules Levy)
      Roland Kibbee ... producer (uncredited)
      Burt Lancaster ... producer (uncredited)

      Elmer Bernstein

      Duke Callaghan ... director of photography
      Richard Moore

      Burt Lancaster first met Sydney Pollack when Pollack worked as a dialogue director
      on the Luchino Visconti epic The Leopard (1963), in which Lancaster starred.
      This was the second of three movies that they made together in quick succession.,
      the others being The Swimmer (1968) and Castle Keep (1969).
      This was by far the most successful of the three.

      Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters reputedly had a two-year affair in the mid-'50s.

      Set in 1860, Joseph mentions the planet Pluto, discovered in 1930.

      All of the weapons shown came into use after the Civil War.

      Audio/visual unsynchronised
      At c.34 minutes the guitarist plays only open strings despite the more elaborate soundtrack.

      Character error
      While discussing astrology Joseph Lee tells Kate that Napoleon and her lover
      Jim Howie share the same birthday of July 27th. Napoleon was born on August 15th.

      During the fight in the water, Joseph hits Joe on the head with the big rock.
      Joseph's hands come apart without the rock and then the rock reappears in his hands.

      Crew or equipment visible
      During the fight scene between Joe and Joseph, the white wire used to pull
      Joe out of the ditch is clearly visible.

      Revealing mistakes
      When Joe starts the avalanche, the first large boulder is rolling alone.
      It takes a bounce on a ledge, and rocks 20 feet on each side begin to roll,
      indicating they were all pushed by the crew.

      Memorable Quotes

      Filming Locations
      Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico
      Quartzsite, Arizona, USA
      Parker, Arizona, USA
      Barranca del Cobre, Chihuahua, Mexico
      Harquahala Mountains, Arizona, USA
      Durango, Mexico
      Sierra de Organos, Sombrerete, Zacatecas, Mexico (location)

      Watch the Movie

      Best Wishes
      London- England
    • The Scalphunters is a 1968 American Western film starring
      Burt Lancaster, Ossie Davis and Telly Savalas.
      The film was directed by Sydney Pollack, with the score written by Elmer Bernstein.
      Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film.

      User Review

      A magnificent achievement. One of the best westerns ever made.
      27 November 2002 | by inframan (the lower depths)

      INFRA wrote:

      This was the movie that made me throw away my Maltin Reviews.

      I've always been a huge admirer of Burt Lancaster & his work & in my book this is one of his very best; it may just be his best, but how can you beat Crimson Pirate or Vera Cruz or Sweet Smell of Success or even his first - The Killers? The man was endowed with very high doses of intelligence, humor, humanity, physical presence & and a sort of 19th century stage hamminess. There used to be a saying that you could tell the type of film Lancaster was doing by his hairdo. When the hair was short, the movie was serious. When it was wavy, his tongue was filling up his cheek. It's quite wavy in Scalphunters. He's the epitome of the mountain man / trapper in this one: whiskey-drinking, bible-quoting highly-opionated & super-stubborn Joe Bass. Mark Twain would have loved this character, he's right out of Twain's imagination. It's hard to believe that Lancaster was in his mid-50's when he made this. He looks much younger & moves with the quickness & grace that made this ex-trapeze performer a legend.

      Ossie Davis is a perfect match for Lancaster as the extraordinarily wise & well-educated but highly wary escaped slave Joseph Lee, who must continually rein in his instinct to trump the cruder but highly canny in his own way Joe Bass. The film is an almost Shakespearean interplay of their personalities - duel & duet . The viewer is able to observe the change they continually effect upon each other.

      The Scalphunters themselves are a group of lowlifes led by Telly Savalas as Jim Howie (in the best role I ever saw him play in a movie), a nasty but not unwise lout who spends most of the day & night in his baggy long johns. They make their living robbing & killing & selling Indian scalps to the government. I found the portrayal (& dialog) of these bushwhackers as real & accurate in every detail as anything I've ever seen on the screen, right down to Howie's astrology ("star-gazin") ex-whore lady-friend Kate played by Shelly Winters in her least whiny role ever. There's plenty of tension & action in this film. It's cat vs. mice from start to finish: Lancaster vs. Indians, Lancaster vs. Scalphunters, Lancaster vs. Indians again.

      The performances, Sidney Pollack's direction & William Norton's writing all serve to put this film in a class with The Searchers. I believe it is to Lancaster's career what The Searchers is to John Wayne's.

      Definitely a magnificent achievement. A must for wide-screen DVD restoration.
      Best Wishes
      London- England

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