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Shalako

original movie poster by Tom Chantrell
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Produced by Euan Lloyd
Written by J.J. Griffith
Hal Hopper
Starring Brigitte Bardot
Sean Connery
Stephen Boyd
Jack Hawkins
Honor Blackman
Music by Robert Farnon
Cinematography Ted Moore
Editing by John D. Guthridge
Distributed by Cinerama Releasing Corporation
Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors
Release date(s) 1968
Running time 113 min.
Country  United Kingdom
Language English

Shalako is a 1968 British western film directed by Edward Dmytryk, starring Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot. Stephen Boyd portrayed a classic western villain. Jack Hawkins played an upper class Englishman abroad in the "new" country. Honor Blackman portrayed an English lady.

Contents

Plot summary

A hunting party composed of European aristocrats is led into Apache territory by their guide, Bosky Fulton (Stephen Boyd). When French Countess Irina Lazaar (Brigitte Bardot) wanders off by herself, she is confronted by Indians, only to be rescued by Shalako (Sean Connery). When the party ignores his warning to leave Indian country, the Apaches led by Chato (Woody Strode) attack. Based on the book by Louis L'Amour.

Production

Producer Euan Lloyd was introduced to Louis L'Amour by his friend Alan Ladd. Over the years as Lloyd dreamed of becoming an independent producer he kept in touch with L'Amour with a view of filming his 1962 Shalako. At one time Lloyd had lined up Henry Fonda and Senta Berger for the film to be made in Mexico but the reluctance of many film distributors to financially back Fonda and changes in the economic situation made filming in Mexico more expensive than planned.[1]

During a meeting with L'Amour, Lloyd related stories of the large queues at the cinemas in New York for the latest James Bond film. L'Amour remarked that Sean Connery would certainly "look tall in the saddle".[2] Lloyd met Sean Connery who was a Western fan since childhood and was keen on doing the film as he received $1 million dollars out of the $5 million budget.[3] Connery was available as he had turned down playing Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Lloyd also obtained that film's planned original co-star Bardot, Bond cinematographer Ted Moore, and Bond stuntman and action scene arranger Bob Simmons.

With Connery on board, many European and other film distributors were keen to finance the film that was made in Almería, Spain. Whilst scouting locations when he was planning to film in the United States, Lloyd noticed that many real Native Americans were overweight and did not look menacing. Simmons recruited a war party of lean and mean gypsies that he trained to ride and act like vicious Apaches.[4] Simmons also talked Connery into shaving off the droopy moustache he had grown for the role to look more "realistic". The investors perhaps remembered Gregory Peck's moustache in The Gunfighter that was believed to have made the public stay away from that film and feared the same might happen with Shalako.

Almeira had many spaghetti westerns filmed there, but at the same time as Shalako, Harry Saltzman's Western Desert war film Play Dirty was being filmed on the same locations. One film crew had to wipe out the tyre tracks in the sand before filming the Old West whilst the other crew had to pick up the horse droppings before they began shooting. Once the gypsy Apaches mounted on horseback made an error and attacked a Long Range Desert Group by mistake.[5]

Lloyd gathered a strong international cast, including Connery's former Goldfinger co-star Honor Blackman, as well as Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd, Woody Strode, Don Barry and an unsuccessful candidate for the role of Bond, Paddy O'Brien.

Critical Response

The film premiered in late 1968 to mixed reviews: many felt the movie was not as good as the other Westerns imported from Europe at the time, in particular, the Italian westerns that were making names for Sergio Leone, Lee Van Cleef, and Clint Eastwood. It also marked Sean Connery's first attempt to go mainstream in film and to divorce himself from the James Bond films. In the end, it almost worked for Connery, but he had to keep on trying other roles, even after he did one more Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever. Later on, it became a cult classic as it had been regarded as having the hallmarks of a European Western.

Notes

  1. ^ Euan Lloyd Interview Cinema Retro #1
  2. ^ ibid
  3. ^ p.123 Herzberg, Bob From Shooting Scripts: From Pulp Western to Film 2005 McFarland
  4. ^ Simmons, Bob & Passingham, Kenneth Nobody Does It Better: My 25 Years of Stunts With James Bond and Other Stories 1987 Blandford
  5. ^ ibid

External links

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