http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446693340/ref=s9_asin_image_1/002-2425905-1264811?n=283155 - FROM THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE® MOVIE GUIDE http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446693340/ref=s9_asin_image_1/002-2425905-1264811?n=283155 - by Head RAZZberry John Wilson -- available from Amazon.com
WHITE COMANCHE (1968/RKO General Pictures)
WHO’S TO BLAME
CAST: William Shatner (As Twins: Johnny Moon and Notah); Joseph Cotton (Sheriff Logan); Rosanna Yani (Kelly); Bart Barry (Mayor Bolker); Ian Castelli (The Boy); Perla Cristal (White Fawn)
CREW: Directed by Gilbert Lee Kay (Jose Briz), Written by Robert I. Holt and Frank Gruber
“A cheap, visually ugly Spanish western…with a morose sincerity… A sagebrush version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.”
Robert Monell /VideoForum.com
“The most electrifying of bad westerns… delivering some of the worst dialogue in movie history.” Nate Nichols / http://www.Ooze.com - www.Ooze.com
PLOT, WHAT PLOT?
If you think William Shatner is one of the great bad actors of our time, then this one’s for you. In WHITE COMANCHE, which he made during hiatus from over-acting on a regular basis as Captain Kirk on TV’s STAR TREK, Shatner gets to ham it up as not one but two characters: Half-breed twin brothers who square off in the old West.
Some reviews suggest that this film was shot in about one week – And it certainly seems a credible accusation, given the film’s quality. Even on DVD, the print looks like it was tapped-danced on by the entire U.S. Olympic golf team. Instead of Leo the Lion roaring (or any studio logo) we open with a stock shot of a snowy mountain, with a stock sound effect of a wolf howl under it. Then the music comes up – If Sheriff Dillon from GUNSMOKE had ever played Vegas, this is what his pit band would’ve sounded like. Finally, a title appears: “Producers’ International Corporation presents…” With this inauspicious a start, we know already what we’re in for. Made in Spain on a budget apparently under 2,317 pesos, WHITE COMANCHE is supposed to be that country’s answer to the so-called Spaghetti Westerns that were all the rage at the time. Think of it as the world’s first Sangria Western.
As the main titles end, Shatner is being chased by a band of desperados, determined to string him up from the nearest tree (and they haven’t even seen him in his other role as the Indian half-breed brother, Notah!). Barely escaping with his life, Johnny Moon realizes it must be his half-brother they wanted to hang, and so goes to Notah’s village, entirely populated by Spaniards in dime store Indian wigs. Notah’s wife, who wears the traditional excessive mascara of her people, tells her half-brother-in-law: “There has never been good between you!” To which Moon retorts: “Has there ever been good between Notah and anyone?”
Suddenly we’re following a stagecoach through a canyon, in which rides a blonde in a 1967 Playboy centerfold hairdo. From the hills above ride a raiding party of Indians, led by Notah – Shatner in the same haircut as Moon, a headband on his forehead, his pale white chest bare, wearing buckskin pants and little booties, with his face streaked with “war paint” that looks like someone at the office attacked him with a bottle of White-Out. He lets out an Indian war whoop (as only Shatner can do an Indian war whoop) and one of the coach passengers intones: “It’s the White Comanche!”
When Notah gets home from “work,” Johnny is waiting for him with the welcoming remark: “Notah is well-named. His liver is white, like his Yankee father, his heart burns blacker than the skin of his Comanche mother and he’s white-bellied, like his name, the snake!” Popping a button of Peyote, Notah replies: “Notah’s brother talks like the white man he thinks he is. He is afraid to be Comanche.” The comeback? “Eat the peyote, drug of the devil – Dream your dreams of hate!”
Obviously, these brothers don’t get along. And how they work out their differences, through 93 minutes of ugga-mugga and broken English dialogue, is the meat-and-potatoes of this film. To accompany Shatner’s name above the title, the producers hired Joseph Cotten to play the local sheriff. After having started his career with CITIZEN KANE, and skidding down from there to DUEL IN THE SUN and THE OSCAR, Cotten reached his nadir with this role: You can almost smell his disdain for the words the screenwriters put in his mouth.
Deservedly obscure, and only remembered today because of Shatner’s pricelessly hammy dual performance, WHITE COMANCHE should be Exhibit A if Captain Smirk ever finds himself on trial for over-acting in the first degree.
Johnny Moon (William Shatner) after winning a gun-drawing contest: “Next time, don’t eat the peyote. Maybe then you’ll be quick enough!”
CHOICE DVD CHAPTER STOP
The Big Shoot-Out at End of Film: In which Shatner/Johnny challenges Shatner/Notah to a gun duel – And no one can tell which brother is which, until one of them dies.
As a “public domain” title, WHITE COMANCHE is available on VHS and DVD from various video labels, and from http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00020FUYE/002-2425905-1264811?v=glance&n=130 - Amazon.com for as little as http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00020FUYE/002-2425905-1264811?v=glance&n=130 - ONE CENT !. It will be playing on http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article/?cid=86471 - Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday, August 16.
Ye Olde Head RAZZberry