Monday, April 16, 2012

Captain Apache (1971)

Tedious in the extreme, this spaghetti Western stars the indestructible Lee Van Cleef as a half-breed lawman who spends most of his time grimacing through insults as whites call him names like “red-ass” and as Indians question his ethnic bona fides. Van Cleef snarls with his usual aplomb, and he cuts an impressive figure whether he’s fighting with his fists or his six-guns, but as in most of his second-rate spaghetti Westerns (which is to say pretty much everything except The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly), the combination of a clich├ęd script and Van Cleef’s paycheck-cashing indifference results in drabness. The story has something to do with Captain Apache (Van Cleef) investigating a killing and stumbling across a conspiracy, but the movie is really just a string of manly-man confrontations showcasing Captain Apache’s toughness. He intimidates weaklings into revealing information and he pretends to change his allegiances in order to sneak into the villains’ confidence, but everything is so inconsequential that it’s impossible to care how the pieces of the puzzle fit together or, really, whether Our Hero will vanquish evil at the end of the day. Since Captain Apache has all of the usual spaghetti-Western shortcomings (awkward dubbing, disjointed editing, meandering story), only the novel elements merit notice. Van Cleef talk-sings the movie’s theme song, providing some unintentional laughs, and at least one scene reaches the level of camp: When Captain Apache meets an Indian who disbelieves the hero’s racial identity, Van Cleef strips down to a loincloth (as a means of showing off his “red” skin), then performs the rest of the scene oiled like a bodybuilder and sucking in his gut. At least when Van Cleef is crooning and preening, Captain Apache offers weirdness to break the overall monotony.

Captain Apache: SQUARE


Cindylover1969 said...

Um - this was a Spanish-British co-production, and therefore can't count as a spaghetti Western any more than Lee Van Cleef could count as a good singer.

Guy Callaway said...

Okay, I'm not saying this is anywhere near good, but everyone seems to miss that it was MEANT to be funny. As it stands, I enjoy it and think it needs a little more love.
It's also highly quotable ("Yellowsnake Canyon??'s full of snakes!").
Btw, Robert Rietty dubbed nearly all the secondary characters.