Friday, April 6, 2018

Starbird and Sweet William (1973)

The polite way to characterize low-budget family film Starbird and Sweet William is to say that it’s a harmless story about a young Native American learning to bond with nature. Yet that description cuts Starbird and Sweet William too much slack. This cloying and dull film’s portrayal of race is about as authentic as the notion of a man forming a surrogate family with a bear, a crow, and a raccoon. Everything about Starbird and Sweet William is fake, right down to the ridiculous ending during which a brand-new character appears just in time to rescue the protagonist from mortal danger. At the beginning of the film, Starbird (A Martinez), whose tribal affiliation is never specified, leaves his reservation and takes a job as an airplane mechanic. One day, he steals a small plane for a joyride, then crashes in the Southwestern wilderness. Despite a broken arm and a shortage of supplies, Starbird survives long enough to bond with the aforementioned critters; the “Sweet William” of the title is an orphaned bear cub with whom Starbird frolics in syrupy musical montages. For most of its running time, the film has virtually no plot, instead presenting an outdoor travelogue buttressed by folksy narration courtesy of Rex Allen. (Sample: “Seeing the baby foxes and the deer, Starbird had a warm feeling of kinship with his brothers, the animals—something he’d never really felt before.”) When the filmmakers finally introduce conflict through the arrival of hunters late in the second act, it’s abrupt, clumsy, and woefully insufficient for sparking dramatic interest.

Starbird and Sweet William: LAME


Allen Rubinstein said...

Found a really obscure American film you haven't covered from 75:

No idea where you might find it.

Cindylover1969 said...

Howco International Pictures,a name you can trust.Said no one ever.

Louis Letizia said...

This is on Vinegar Syndrome DVD . I would think its more porn than mainstream

By Peter Hanson said...

Allen, thanks for the tip on Both Ways, though I concur with Louis -- some quick research suggests that Both Ways is an adult film. Related: I could live happily without ever subjecting my retinas to another Vinegar Syndrome release.

Senator said...

Starbird and Sweet William is just fine for a children's movie. Mr Hanson stated that the movie was phony, starting with the actor A. Martinez being Latino.

Well Hanson, next time try a bit of real research. Martinez is part Mexican, but he is also Apache on his dad's side and Piegan Blackfeet compliments of his mother. His physical features clearly show his Native American heritage.

It also seems you are a city person so I would expect such ignorance of the wilderness to be common in your type of person. BTW: Being a city Boy Scout does not count for a true understanding of the wilderness.

This movie was for the entertainment of children and it does a fair job. Most adults really can not understand the child mind and what they like.

Funny thing, I learned about 60 years ago that if the critics hate the movie, it is worth seeing. Well, that has been right on the money every time.

This message coming to you from rural Alaska and after 71 years, I believe I have the hang of remote areas and an interesting relationship with wild critters.