TAZA, SON OF COCHISE (1954) C 79m dir: Douglas Sirk
w/Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, Gregg Palmer, Bart Roberts, Morris AnkrumGene Iglesias, Jeff Chandler (uncredited)
Yes, this is a standard adventure plot, but when director Sirk is put at the helm, everything is changed. Sirk is one of FilmFrog's favorite directors, and, although this film was made before his greatest artistic and commercial successes (the melodramas he made for Universal Studios) and is not in his strongest genre, it's worth the effort. From Variety 's review of the movie: "Taza, Son of Cochise is a colorful 3-D Indian-US Cavalry entry alternating between hot action and passages of an almost pastoral quality. The spectacular scenery of Moab, Utah, furnishes a particularly apropos background for unfoldment of the script, and Douglas Sirk's direction is forceful, aimed at making every scene an eye-filling experience. This is the story of the great Apache chief's son, who promises at his father's deathbed he will try to keep the peace that Cochise so painstakingly made with the whites. He is opposed here by his younger brother, who attempts to win the tribe over to Geronimo and take to the warpath again." And from Jon Halliday's book Sirk on Sirk : "... I was delighted to get out into the desert and among the Indians, and I tried to get plenty of lore into the picture. It was shot entirely in Utah, mostly near Moab, and a bit above the upper Colorado. It was shot completely outdoors, and improvised. There are a few sets, but they were all built there, on the spot --- by the Indians, too. And they were real Indians in the picture, they hadn't been spoiled by [John] Ford. I had a big battle in the picture where they really started fighting like hell. None of them could speak English, and we had a couple of interpreters for the two tribes of Apaches --- who couldn't speak each others' language either. The battle was one of the most exciting things I've ever done. It took a week, and I shot it with four cameras. It was, technically, the most difficult thing I have ever done. And here I had [Russell] Metty again [Sirk's cinematographer], and he did a very good job under extreme circumstances --- because it was mid-summer, and hot as hell. This was the first time I had George Zuckerman working with me. We did the script together; he was an excellent writer, I think. And together we built Hudson into one of those intermediate parts. ... He's my most symbolic in-between man. He is an Indian, but there has seeped into the character this element of civilization. .... I think the picture catches the lyricism of the Indian love affair, the grasping for words, the great shyness. And Barbara Rush was excellent as the girl. I stuck in the Chandler funeral at the beginning --- though Chandler didn't want to do it. He had done Cochise already [in Universal's BATTLE AT APACHE PASS], which was the whole point. When I suggested it to him, he said, 'But, my God, I'm a star! .. Just to do five minutes and then die!' But I needed Chandler to start it off, and I think this also contributed to a change in the title. Before Chandler came in --- for a large sum of money --- it had a different title. ... [Shooting in 3-D] was just an experiment. You remember, it was a time of a certain technical revolution, the wide screen, etc. Ultimately, the exhibitors didn't like it, so it was scrapped. But it was no help to me."